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Beyond SPF

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Follow these eight tips to better protect your skin this summer.

HealthCheckJuly2015A good sunscreen applied early and often is only the first step in protecting your skin from the summer sun. The sun’s rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so it is best to stay inside during this time. Have to be outside? Here are eight things you can do to limit the harmful effects of the sun.

1. WEAR THE RIGHT CLOTHING
Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face and neck, and consider sun-protective garments with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). Don’t forget sunglasses!

2. WEAR THE RIGHT SUNSCREEN
A thick coating of waterproof sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 is recommended.

3. APPLY SUNSCREEN EARLY & OFTEN
Sunscreen should be applied 20 to 30 minutes before exposure for proper absorption and reapplied every two hours — or more often when sweating or swimming.

4. REMEMBER THE FORGETFUL SPOTS
The Skin Cancer Foundation says 80 percent of skin cancers occur on the head, neck and hands. When applying, it can be easy to forget these areas! The nose, because it protrudes, presents special sun protection problems, so be sure to apply a thick layer of sunscreen. Also, make sure to get the tops of your ears and, if going barefoot, your feet. Lastly, don’t forget your lips! Use a lip balm with an SPF of at least 15 and reapply often.

5. CONSIDER REFLECTED LIGHT
The sun’s rays can reflect off sand, snow, concrete and many other surfaces, so be careful to protect areas like the under part of your chin, which is especially vulnerable to reflected light.

6. PHOTOSENSITIVITY
Some drugs, including diuretics and retinol, can make your skin extra sensitive to sun exposure and increase the risk of sunburn. Herbal medicines like St. John’s Wort have a similar effect, so speak to your doctor.

7. DON’T LET THE TEMPERATURE FOOL YOU
UV light can penetrate cloud cover, so take precautions even on cool, cloudy days, and in the snow. Be sure to wear a daily sunscreen with SPF 15 so you are always protected.

8. IF YOU WANT THE GLOW, TAKE IT SLOW
Everyone wants that summer glow, but it’s important to allow your skin to gradually build up melanin to provide some protection — so limit your sun exposure and avoid sunbathing. Tanning oils — and even worse, tanning beds — should never be used.