Expert Health Articles

Sunscreen and Summer Care: Essential Tips for Healthy Skin

Ali Chohan, MD

Family Medicine
Putnam County Primary Care - Ottawa

As the summer sun calls us outdoors, it's crucial to remember that while soaking up those rays can be delightful, it also comes with risks to our skin health. One of the most effective ways to protect our skin during the summer months is by incorporating sunscreen into our daily routine. The following can help you choose the right sunscreen and provide other tips for summer care and maintaining healthy skin.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen

To begin, let’s understand sunscreen. Sunscreen is a skincare product designed to protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation. There are two main types of UV radiation that sunscreen guards against: UVA and UVB. UVA rays can prematurely age the skin, while UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn.

When selecting a sunscreen, it's essential to consider the sun protection factor (SPF), which indicates the sunscreen's level of protection from UVB rays. Typically, dermatologists recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for sufficient protection. When purchasing sunscreen, look for sunscreens labeled as “broad-spectrum,” as they offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

Another factor to consider is if the sunscreen is water-resistant, especially if you will be swimming or sweating. Remember to reapply every two hours or more frequently if you are swimming or sweating excessively to maintain effectiveness. Even water-resistant sunscreens may lose their effectiveness over time.

Lastly, consider your skin type when choosing a sunscreen. Individuals with sensitive skin may benefit from mineral-based sunscreens, while those with oily skin may prefer oil-free or gel-based formulas.

Applying Sunscreen

Proper application of sunscreen is key to its effectiveness. Apply generously and use enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin thoroughly. Most adults require about one ounce of sunscreen (equivalent to a shot glass) to cover their entire body. Remember to apply sunscreen to commonly overlooked and often missed areas such as the ears, lips, back of the neck, and tops of the feet.

Staying Hydrated and Other Tips

In addition to sunscreen, staying hydrated is equally important to your skincare in hot weather, if not more so. Drinking plenty of water will keep your skin hydrated. At certain times, especially during peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., seek shade and limit your time in direct sunlight to avoid risks of dehydration and sunburn. Always cover up with protective clothing (lightweight, long-sleeved clothing, hats, and sunglasses) to further shield your skin from the sun's rays. Use a moisturizer to help with lost moisture from sun exposure and to prevent dryness.

By incorporating these sunscreen and summer care tips into your daily routine, you can enjoy the sun safely while maintaining healthy, radiant skin. Remember, protecting your skin today will help prevent premature aging and reduce your risk of skin cancer in the future. Stay safe, stay protected, and enjoy the summer sun responsibly!