Suntan Lotion Is A Thing of the Past

sunscreen-bottleIf you remember the days when what you applied to your skin in the summer was called “suntan lotion”, you, by definition, have had too much sun already in your lifetime.  Back in the old days, if these lotions had any sun protection factor or SPF at all, it was not more than 4 or 6.

Current sunscreens with SPF of 30, and UVA as well as UVB protection, are considered the recommended standard.  In fact, a SPF 30 sunscreen blocks 97% of harmful UV rays.  Higher SPF ratings only slightly increased the percent of UV rays blocked.

The key is to reapply frequently.  Don’t get fooled into thinking that using SPF 100 means that you do not need to reapply.

sunburnConsistency matters the most in sunscreen use.  Wear a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher every day, rain or shine, no matter the season.

If you are outside and particularly if you are in the sun, sunscreen should be applied every 2 hours.  Especially if you are sweating or active, sunscreen will wear off or will be rubbed off, rendering you vulnerable to UV radiation.

Spray or lotion types do not seem to matter.  Either type needs to be applied daily and consistently reapplied as above.

sunscreen_shot_glassThe amount of sunscreen applied does appear to matter.  The usual rule for adults is a shot-glass amount should be used to cover the average person’s face, neck, ears, forearms, hands and legs.

In addition to sunscreen, don’t forget about physical measures to ensure sun protection.  In other words, hats and neck bandannas can be very effective.

hat_against_sunOn a trip to the Galapagos Islands last winter, I wore a hat and shirts impregnated with SPF sunscreen from LL Bean.  They worked wonderfully.

We carry several forms of sunscreen here at Maine Laser Skin Care that I recommend highly and use personally.  If you have an SPF 30 or greater sunscreen that you like, just be consistent in its usage and reapplication.

I know that the summer is drawing to a close, but this is not a signal to put away the sunscreen.  Rather, keep it on the counter and apply every day.  Your skin will thank you in the long term.

About Dr. John Burke

John Burke M.D. has practiced medicine for over 25 years, and is the founding partner of MidMaine Internal Medicine. He established Maine Laser Skin Care in 2004 after devoting years to learning the latest in laser and dermatologic technology. Dr. Burke has treated patients from all over the United States. He is one of Maine's busiest practitioners in laser treatments, and in the use of Botox for upper facial lines and excessive sweating.
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