Sunscreen 101

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I confess: Before I met Dr. Z. I used to be a sun worshiper. But not anymore.  While I can't undo the past, I certainly can change the future.   

It's a fact.  Studies have shown that UV light from the sun is associated with wrinkles and skin cancer.  The problem is not just exposure from laying out at the beach.   Incidental sun light, even on your commute to work or time in the yard, adds up over a lifetime.   Wearing sunscreen lowers your risk of developing skin cancer.  USE IT.   There are so many different brands and formulations out there to choose from, so which one is the best to use? In reality, I say the best sunscreen is the one you actually use.

I practice what I preach.  Every day, rain or shine, cloudy or sunny, I put on sunscreen.   It is part of my every day ritual just as brushing my teeth is.  INCORPORATE IT INTO YOUR ROUTINE TOO.  It is a myth that you can't get burned on a cloudy day.  It is also a myth that you can't get burned inside.  UVA light penetrates through clouds and through glass. 

But is sunscreen enough? no.  The average person applies half as much sunscreen as he or she should.  This translates to less sun protection than you expect based on the SPF on the label. So what can you do?  Exercise sun protective behavior.  Sunscreen application is just one part of what you should be doing.  The other part is seeking shade between the peak hours of 10 AM and 2 PM and wearing sun protective hats, clothes, and glasses.

In my 30's, I can't change the sun exposure of my teens and 20's, but I certainly am not exposing myself anymore.   And as for undoing some of the damage that was already done...  Well, that's what lasers are for.  #CoriConfesses

Here are some helpful sunscreen tips...

1. Apply chemical blocker sunscreens at least 20 minutes before going outside.  Physical blocker sunscreens (eg. those with Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide) can be applied right before you go out.
2. Use a nickel sized amount for your face and a golf ball sized amount for your body (about 1 ounce)
3. Don't forget to reapply.  Sunscreens lose their efficacy with sun exposure and come off  with sweat.
4. Sticks should be rubbed on the skin for 4 passes back and forth to ensure enough is applied. Sprays should be held 1 inch from the skin and sprayed until the skin glistens.  (This is not like applying perfume!)
5. Make sure to get rid of expired sunscreens.  If there is no date, they can last 3 years from their manufacture date.  When in doubt - TOSS IT!
6. Stick to trusted sunscreen brands.  Don't skimp when it comes to your skin.

For more information check out the Skin Cancer Foundation Website.