8 facts about sunscreen that most people don't know

As summer progresses, one of the most important tools you can have in your skin care arsenal is sunscreen. You may be ready to head to the beach and soak up the sun, but planning to take care of your skin in the light of UV rays is essential to your skin’s health. If left unprotected, long-term sun exposure can put your skin at risk from the dangers of harmful radiation.

While you may have gone out to buy a tube of sunscreen, understanding how to properly use this vital skin care product is actually a lot more than most people realize. If you want to take care of your skin as gorgeously as it deserves this summer, check out these facts about sunscreen that most people don’t know.

Broad spectrum is the best option.

There are two different types of UV rays, ultraviolet A rays (UVA) and ultraviolet B rays (UVB). UVA causes premature aging and is the most common, but UVB is the more dangerous type and usually causes sunburns. Both types of UV rays can cause skin cancer, but the broad spectrum protects against both.

Look for a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF.

SPF is the sun protection factor of a sunscreen and tells you how much the sunscreen can protect against UV radiation. You can block 97 percent of the sun’s UV rays with a sunscreen of at least 30 SPF.

Sunscreen can no longer be advertised as waterproof.

In the past, sunscreen manufacturers could advertise that their products were waterproof. This is no longer permissible and must now be advertised as: waterproof, which is effective for about 40 minutes in water; and very water resistant which is effective for about 80 minutes in water. That means after you’re in the water or sweaty, the AAD suggests reapplying sunscreen every two hours.

Babies under six months should not wear sunscreen.

For the most part, babies should not wear sunscreen as their skin is much more sensitive than that of adults. The best way to protect children under six months from the sun is to dress them in protective gear such as long-sleeved shirts and wide-brimmed hats. It is also important to make sure they are hydrated.

Sunscreen actually runs out.

Still using that old tube of sunscreen from a decade ago? You might want to check the expiration date and throw it away. Despite popular belief, sunscreens do have an expiration date—and using an expired product isn’t a good idea. Most sunscreens will retain their original effectiveness for up to three years. Most products will change their smell and consistency as they begin to expire.

Spray on sunscreens are not as effective.

Spray on sunscreen may be convenient and less work, but it’s not as effective as products you have to rub into your skin. This is partly because FDA regulations do not apply to spray-on products and thus do not require the same standards and testing as sunscreens. So if you happen to use a spray on sunscreen, make sure to use an ample amount and rub it thoroughly into your skin.

You need a full glass of sunscreen.

To really protect your skin, you should use the cup size rule. This means that for one full application, you should use about the same amount of sunscreen that would fit in a full glass. This is a good way to remember exactly how much sunscreen to use and that you should use that amount for each application.

There are two types of sunscreens.

Chemical and physical are the two types of sunscreens that have different ingredients and uses. Chemical sunscreen contains ingredients such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octinoxate. This kind works like a sponge and absorbs the sun’s rays and is easier to apply. The physical sunscreen contains ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide – it’s a real shield, reflecting UV rays and great for more sensitive skin.

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