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A Guide to Sunscreen

September 19th, 2011 Healthy Living

You probably already know that you should be wearing sunscreen every time you go outside, especially if you're planning to be out there for long periods of time. But do you actually do it? Despite the risks of skin cancer and painful sunburns, many people are either skipping out on sunblock or not using enough. Here's a guide to help you get the most out of your sunscreen, inspired by the Skin Cancer Foundation.

The lowdown on SPF
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. A product's SPF is a measure of its ability to protect against UVB rays. Anything above SPF 15 should be sufficient in protecting your skin from the sun's damaging effects. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 30 blocks 97 percent and SPF 50 blocks 98 percent.

What kind you need
The level of protection you require depends on your skin type and what kinds of outdoor activity you're engaging in. Broad spectrum sunscreens, which protect against both UVB and UVA rays, are the best for all-around coverage. If you use a moisturizer with SPF built in, you don't need to worry much about applying more sunscreen throughout the day, but if you'll be outside for longer, you may need a sunscreen that's a little more potent and won't sweat off.

How much you need
Sunblocks need to be reapplied every two hours to maintain maximum benefits. Even if it seems like a lot at first, you should be using about an ounce of lotion every time you apply. That's about as much as would fit in a shot glass. You may find that you're going through a lot of your bottle during a day at the beach, but if you don't apply often enough you won't be getting the right amount of SPF. In the end, it'll be worth it.