In just a month it will officially be the first day of summer. School will be finishing up for some and we will be enjoying beaches and other outdoor activities. Let’s face it, we had a long winter and want to enjoy the beautiful summer weather! But slow down now. Are you forgetting something?

It’s time to be even more diligent about wearing sunscreen. Sure, we’ve all had those moments where we thought “Oh, it’s a little cloudy. I will be fine for just an hour.” Then you return indoors and see the red glow on your skin. Wearing sunscreen is crucial in protecting our skin from sun damage, premature aging and even skin cancer. The time to start thinking about sun protection is now. Sunscreen should actually be applied all year long to exposed skin. We expose much more skin in the spring and summer months, so it is especially important to make sunscreen a part of your daily routine.

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Here are some helpful tips to help you understand how sunscreen works and to find the best one:

* SPF. SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor.” It is a measure of the sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB damage, which is the redness from a sunburn. You should choose a minimum of SPF 15, which will block approximately 93% of the sun’s rays. The higher SPFs will block more, but it is important to note that no sunscreen will block 100% of the sun’s rays. SPF 30 will block 97% and SPF 50 will block 98%. While very fair skinned individuals or those with a history of skin cancer will get the most benefit from these higher SPFs, most of us can get by with just an SPF 15 or SPF 30.

* Broad-Spectrum. It is important to choose a sunscreen that is labeled as “broad-spectrum,” as it will protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Even though UVB rays are what causes sunburn, both types of rays can cause skin cancers and skin damage.

* Apply. Sunscreen should be first applied 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. This will allow enough time for the sunscreen to sink into the skin. This isn’t the time to skimp. It will take 1 oz of sunscreen to provide the proper amount of coverage.

* Reapply! Sunscreen needs to be reapplied at least every two hours to be effective, or more often if you sweat, get wet, or towel off. Even water-resistant sunscreens need frequent reapplication.

So be smart this summer and all year long. Find an effective sunscreen and commit to using it daily. Your skin will thank you by looking healthy and youthful for many years!

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