Common Sunscreen Questions

Warmer days and sunshine are finally here! While time in the sun has many positive health benefits, overexposure can be harmful to your skin. Sunscreen protects your skin from UV rays by combining several ingredients. Here are some helpful answers to common sunscreen questions.

When should I wear sunscreen? You should wear sunscreen whenever you are outside (even in the winter). Harmful rays get through even on cloudy days.

What is SPF? SPF stands for sun protection factor, which measures sunscreen’s ability to prevent UV rays from damaging skin. As an example, if your unprotected skin reddens in 20 minutes, using an SPF of 15 prevents reddening 15 times longer.

How much and how often should I apply sunscreen? The recommended amount of sunscreen needed to cover exposed areas is one ounce. Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before going outside, and reapply about every two hours.

What about water or sweat resistant sunscreen? These terms tell you whether sunscreen remains effective for 40 or 80 minutes when swimming or sweating. No sunscreen is 100% water or sweat resistant, so always reapply while swimming or sweating.

Can I use the sunscreen I bought last summer? The FDA requires all sunscreens retain their original strength for at least three years. Some sunscreens do include expiration dates, so check before use and dispose accordingly.

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