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A Family Guide to Sunscreens

Protect you and your loved ones from the damaging rays of the sun. Here’s our guide to choosing the best sunscreen and knowing when to reapply.

Mother putting sunblock on her child, guide to sunscreens

Does your idea of family fun include spending time together outdoors? Then it's important to protect the whole gang from the sun's damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays.

There's nothing cool about painful sunburns, early wrinkles, or an increased risk of skin cancer. And yet that's just what too much UV exposure can bring. One way to help keep your family safe: Make sure everyone gets their sunscreen on.

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Here's what you need to know to get started:

Check the label

When shopping for sunscreen, make sure you choose one that:

  • Offers broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays.
  • Has a Sun Protective Factor (SPF) of at least 30. This dermatologist-recommended level of protection blocks 97% of the sun's rays.
  • Is water-resistant.

Apply sunscreen before you go outside 

  • It takes about 15 minutes for its protection to kick in.

Apply enough to be effective

  • Many people make the mistake of using too little sunscreen. Experts recommend using at least 1 ounce—about the amount you can hold in the palm of your hand—to cover exposed skin. This includes the face, ears, arms, hands, nose, neck and feet. Use a lip balm with sunscreen in it to protect your lips.

Reapply at least every two hours

  • Apply more often than every two hours if you if you sweat excessively from being active in the sun. Or if you go for a swim, apply more sunscreen immediately after being in the water.

Lather up the kids too

Follow the label instructions when applying sunscreen to children's exposed skin. If you have a baby younger than 6 months, it's best to keep him or her in the shade to protect sensitive skin.

Also, be sure you encourage everyone to seek a shady spot whenever possible. And before you head outside, hand out some wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses.

Related: Sunscreen or Bug Repellent, Which Should You Put On First?

 

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The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

Sources: American Academy of Dermatology; U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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