Summer is just around the corner, but the sun’s rays are already getting stronger, and that means it’s time to be extra careful about time spent unprotected outdoors. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “one in five Americans will get skin cancer at some point in their lives,” but proper use of sunscreen can help reduce your skin’s exposure to the sun’s harmful rays, which can decrease your risk of cancer.
Unfortunately, sunscreen only works where you actually apply it, and since you have to reapply frequently in order to maintain protection, you need to be doing it correctly.
Oops, you missed a spot
How many times have you applied sunscreen before heading out for some fun in the sun, only to painfully realize later that you missed a spot? It’s happened to me. Last year, I got a painful burn in the middle of my back, where I thought I’d sprayed sunscreen, but I either missed a section entirely or the coverage was just too light.
Either way, I know I am not the only one, because I have seen pictures of odd, streaky burns online, where people applied sunscreen in a haphazard way.
Some spots are easy to forget
Do a quick search for images of sunburns will show you which spots are most neglected when applying sunscreen. The tops and sides of your feet are easy to forget, as are spots in the middle of your back and under your arms. People tend to apply sunscreen well on their shoulders, neck and ears, but the calves, thighs, and cleavage may be ignored.
The top of your head is also an often ignored spot that requires sunscreen, especially if you have thinning hair and will not be wearing a sun protective hat.
It’s a two person job
Applying sunscreen properly is really a two person job. Kids usually get covered pretty well, because moms and dads don’t want to see their children burned and crying later. But who is there to make sure that adults get adequate coverage?
If you are going to be in the sun, don’t be embarrassed to ask a friend to help you with your sunscreen in hard to reach spots, and offer to return the favor for them. A spray sunscreen may be more comfortable to use, since it requires less rubbing than a lotion.
Don’t forget to reapply
Even if you get good coverage the first time you apply, you’ll need to make sure you reapply thoroughly to maintain your protection while you are in the sun. Read the label on your sunscreen, and set a timer if necessary to help remind you when it is time to add another layer of protection.
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