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Safely Using Sunscreen this Summer

As all parents know, there are few decisions as tricky and loaded with misinformation as choosing sunscreen for your family. Do you trust an all-natural one and struggle with goopy application? Do you spray on a top brand name and ignore judgment from other parents on the playground for using chemicals? Is it truly important to chase your kids down every time they towel off at the community pool to apply a new layer of sunscreen?

There is one fact that all experts can agree on: Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States , and regular use of sunscreen prevents skin cancer.

While your decision on which sunscreen to use is a very personal one, the guidelines on how your family should use sunscreen are pretty straightforward. Just follow these three tips to keep it simple and stay safe. After that, the choice is yours!

3 Tips for Safe Sunscreen Use

  1. Choose SPF 30 or higher
    To reduce the risk of skin cancer and premature aging, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) continues to recommend generously applying a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen – that protects against both types of ultraviolet radiation (UVA and UVB) – with an SPF 30 or higher . In addition to sunscreen, the organization recommends using other sun-safe practices , such as limiting sun exposure, seeking shade, and wearing sun-protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses.
  2. Apply generously
    The AAD guidelines recommend that an average adult needs to apply a full shot glass of sunscreen lotion to their exposed skin approximately 15 minutes before they go out in the sun. When you adjust that recommendation for a child, it should feel like you are applying a lot of sunscreen – not a quick swipe. While spray versus lotion is a personal decision, studies show that people who use lotion tend to successfully apply more to their skin than when using a sunscreen spray.
  3. Reapply, reapply, reapply
    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stepped in several years ago and stopped allowing sunscreen brands to use the word “waterproof.” No sunscreen is waterproof, sweat-proof, or can provide perfect sun protection under normal, hot and summery conditions. The AAD and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) both recommend reapplying sunscreen every two hours when outdoors sweating and/or swimming.

Following these simple guidelines can make your family’s summer sunscreen use a breeze – and prevent painful and uncomfortable sunburns. Looking to save some money on your sunscreen this summer? Check out our post on saving money on over-the-counter purchases .

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