Child Putting Sunscreen on AdultThe power of nature is evident everywhere you look and each element has the potential for both joy and disaster. Water nourishes our thirst but too much of it causes floods and destruction. Winds cool us but are also responsible for hurricanes and tornados.

Our sun is also a force to be respected. It provides light and warmth, but too much can burn our skin and cause illness. Most of us are well aware of the necessity for protection when in the sun but there are still unhealthy mistakes we make regarding sunscreen.

Understanding the Labels on Your Bottle of Sunscreen

You have certainly heard all the warnings about too much sun damage and how it can cause melanomas and excessive wrinkles. Other than hiding in a dark room in the daytime, you best bet is to buy sunscreen protection; however, all of those products on the shelves can be confusing. It is difficult to know which sunscreen is right for you.

Sunscreens work by altering the effects of the ultraviolet radiation from the sun on your skin. Some products are designed to partially block these rays and others aim to reflect them.

Every bottle of sunscreen lists the SPF number on the label but many people do not really know what these numbers mean. SPF is the acronym for Sun Protection Factor and is meant to describe how much the product can block the ultraviolet rays of the sun to prevent you from getting a sunburn.

Some products promise broad spectrum defense or protection. This simply means that it is intended for all skin types.

Others say they are water resistant, but that is not the same thing as waterproof; it only implies that it lasts longer when you are wet. Even for those that boast that they are water resistant, you should still rub on more sunscreen approximately every two or three hours. This is especially important when you are swimming or engaging in an activity that makes you perspire excessively.

If you have a family history of cancer or lighter skin, you are particularly vulnerable to the sun’s potentially damaging rays. No matter what your skin type, you should look for protection of at least SPF 15 and above. Experts suggest that most people should select a sunscreen with SPF 40 protection.

Proper Use and Application of Sunscreen

Many sunscreen products advertise that they are waterproof or that they are long-lasting in all conditions, and some people use these descriptions as a guide for which one to buy. When shopping for sunscreen, you may just purchase what’s popular or only the brands with which you are familiar, but something as important as protecting your skin should not be left to chance guesses.

No matter what type of sunscreen you use, it is important to note that it will not work on areas where you do not apply it. In your rush to catch the perfect wave or a great tan, don’t forget the little places, such as your lips, ears, and feet. Make sure every part of your body, including your head, receives sunscreen.

Some sunbathers mistakenly believe that using sunscreen gives you permission to bake in the sun all day without consequence. You should be aware that sunscreen is only supposed to provide a temporary barrier against some of the sun’s harmful rays. Also, if you are planning to be outdoors for an extended time, bring the bottle along so you can reapply your sunscreen as directed.

The time for putting on sunscreen is not after you skin begins to feel hot or you are already starting to change color; it’s before. For best results, you should rub on sunscreen at least 20 minutes prior to going outside.

Other Tips for Avoiding Sun Damage

It is fine to enjoy the rays of the sun, as long as you do so in moderation. Whenever possible, you should try to stay out of the sun during peak afternoon periods. The sun’s rays are strongest between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Also, that Speedo or itsy bitsy teeny yellow polka dot bikini may make you look good, but it does not provide the best protection. Showing off that body you’ve exercised for all year is great; however, you may want to cover up if you are not on the beach or at the pool.

Hats, sunglasses, and long-sleeved cover-ups will allow you to display how toned and trim you are while also limiting your contact with the sun. You can also use shading devices such as umbrellas, tents, and canopies for additional protection.

For sunglasses, take the time to find those that guard against the rays of the sun. You can determine how effective they are and purchase the ones that are right for you by checking the label. They also make these kinds of sunglasses for children.

Remember that these tips do not only apply to summer time enjoyment. Here on Earth, the sun shines all year long, so these safety reminders can be followed in winter and spring too.