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We all know that too much of a good thing can often lead to some not-so-good things. This is especially true for sun exposure. While the immediate effects of too much sun are very apparent, we also need to keep in mind the long-term damage sunrays can cause—namely skin cancer. With 1 in 5 Americans developing skin cancer at some point in their lives, it’s very important that we take every precaution possible.

Limit Your Sun Exposure

The best way to protect yourself from sun damage is to stay out of the sun as much as possible. However, it’s not very reasonable to expect someone to never expose their skin to the sun. Plus, the sun is a great source of vitamin D. And who doesn’t enjoy laying out for a tan? So the next best thing you can do is wear sunscreen.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen

There are a lot of different sunscreens out there, which can make it difficult to know if you’re getting the right kind. Well no longer, because we’re here to simplify things.

The first thing we need to address is the Sun Protection Factor, or what many of us know as SPF. The SPF number measures how well the sunscreen will protect against UVB rays. UVB rays are the type of radiation that causes sunburns. So how much SPF is enough?

SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 93% of UVB radiation, while an SPF 30 sunscreen blocks about 97% of UVB radiation and SPF 50 blocks about 98%. All of these sunscreens start to lose effectiveness once you go over 150 minutes without reapplying. As you can see, SPF 30 or 50 are the better options of the three. You really don’t need to go any higher than SPF 50, as the increase in effectiveness is quite small.

Don’t Forget About UVA Rays

While it’s important to shield your skin from UVB rays, it’s equally as important to protect yourself from UVA rays as well. Overexposure to UVA rays is known to cause premature aging such as wrinkles and sun spots. Keep in mind that overexposure to either UVB or UVA rays can increase your risk of developing skin cancer.

To make sure you’re protected from both UVB and UVA rays, you need to get a sunscreen with broad spectrum protection.

Water-Resistant Sunscreen

The third thing you want your sunscreen to be is water-resistant, especially if you plan on taking a dip in the pool. Sweat can also cause regular sunscreen to rub off, so water-resistance is truly a must if you don’t want to spend your whole day at the beach applying sunscreen.

So, to recap, the three things you want your sunscreen to have is:

  • An SPF rating between 30 and 50
  • Broad spectrum protection
  • To be water-resistant

As we mentioned above, the absolute best way to protect your skin from the sun is to stay in the shade and wear protective accessories such as a hat and sunglasses. But if you do want to spend some time in the sun, don’t forget the sunscreen.