Summer is coming and that means fun in the sun: trips to the beach, time by the pool, and playing in the outdoors. Is your sunscreen ready? This simple guide will help you master the sunscreen basics for better sun protection this summer and beyond. Brush up on your sunscreen skills; your skin will thank you!

Why Do I Need Sunscreen?

Sunscreen 101There’s a lot of hype about sunscreen and for good reason. This important skin protection isn’t just a good thing to do, but a skin care essential. Sunscreen doesn’t just protect from painful sunburns, it helps lower your risk of skin cancer and slows premature aging. One study found that daily sunscreen users developed 50% fewer malignant melanomas. Your skin needs sunscreen.

If you haven’t been diligent with your sunscreen applications, come see us at the Santa Monica Laser and Skin Care Center. Cosmetic lasers, chemical peels and other treatments are available to help your sun-damaged skin.

Sunscreen: Not Just for Summer

Many people remember sunscreen during a trip to the beach, but skip it on a daily basis. Sunscreen should be a daily habit, even during the winter. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ramp up your sun protection efforts on days you’ll be spending more time in the sun. You need some sunscreen every day, and more when you’ll be outdoors.

How Much Sunscreen Do I Need?

Use at least a nickel sized dollop on the face each day. If you’re going to be in the sun, use an SPF of at least 30 and apply more often. You’ll need about 2 tablespoons (about a shot glass worth) of sunscreen to cover the face and body.   Remember to reapply your sunscreen every few hours for best results.

SPF… What’s That?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It is the amount of additional time you can spend in the sun without getting burnt. For example, a person that typically burns after 10 minutes in the sun will have 15x more sun protection with an SPF 15 for 150 minutes in the sun.

Chemical vs. Physical Sunscreens

When it comes to sunscreen, you’ve got two options: physical sunscreens and chemical sunscreens. Physical sunscreens (like zinc oxide) work by blocking the sun’s rays. These often leave a white tinge to the skin (choose a micronized formulation for better results). Chemical sunscreens use chemical agents to absorb the sun’s rays. Chemical sunscreens may be more irritating to the skin than physical sunscreens. Physical sunscreens typically start working right away while chemical sunscreens must be applied before sun exposure.

Do you have a good sunscreen picked out? Make smart sun choices for your skin this summer.