Keep Your Skin Healthy & Looking Its Best With Sunscreen

As you head out for summertime activities, let sunrise, sunscreen, sunset, repeat be your mantra!

“The best way to protect your skin is to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen,” said Karin Olszewski, RN, nurse aesthetician at Samaritan Plastic, Reconstructive & Hand Surgery.

Whether you’re on the way to the lake, the beach or your backyard, protect your skin wherever you go. Olszewski shares these tips to prevent sunburn and sun-related damage that can lead to skin cancer.

Ratings Matter

Sunscreen ratings can be confusing. There’s the sun protection factor, or SPF, which indicates protection from UVB rays and sunburn. And there’s PA+ ratings, which indicate a level of protection from UVA rays that are responsible for skin damage and skin cancer.

The most important thing to remember is that you want protection from both UVA and UVB, Olszewski said. Look for the words “broad-spectrum.” 

“A high SPF alone isn’t enough,” Olszewski said. “Read the label to ensure you have full protection.”

When, How Much, How Often?

It’s important to use enough sunscreen to generously cover all your exposed skin. 

“One ounce per application, or about the size of a shot glass, should do,” Olszewski said.

For full protection, apply sunscreen 20 minutes before exposure to the sun so your skin can absorb it. 

No matter the rating, sunscreen’s protection decreases over time. So, remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours when you’re exposed to sunlight.

The intensity of the sun’s rays is highest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., which is why the American Academy of Dermatology recommends avoiding the sun when the rays are the strongest.

Does Sunscreen Expire?

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration requires that sunscreen remain at its original strength for at least three years, so long as it’s not exposed to excessive heat or direct sun. 

When it’s warm out, store sunscreen in the shade or wrapped in a towel. If you notice changes in the product’s color or consistency, throw it out. 

Some sunscreens list an expiration date, so you can be assured when using it from one year to the next. 

“If you’re using sunscreen correctly – as in applying it often and all over – your product should not outlast the expiration date,” Olszewski said.

Look for an expiration date when you buy sunscreen. If it’s missing, write the date on the bottle and check before using.

Devote to Daily Use

Sunscreen isn’t just for summertime. 

“It’s one of the most important skin care products you can use to combat wrinkles, dark spots and the appearance of aging skin,” Olszewski said. 

Makeup with an SPF of 15 or higher is a good backup. But it doesn’t replace a quality sunscreen that you can also use on your face, neck, ears, chest and hands. 

Olszewski recommends SkinMedica Essential Defense Mineral Shield SPF 35 or Epionce Ultra Shield Lotion SPF 50. Or look for products that contain a physical sunscreen like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which sits on top of the skin to block the sun’s rays.  

Stock up and save 20% on sunscreen through Aug. 31, 2022. Samaritan Plastic, Reconstructive & Hand Surgery carries a variety of medical-grade sunscreen products.