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Sunscreen 101: How to Protect Your Skin from the Sun in Arizona

 |  General

Arizona is one of the sunniest states in the US. The summer months are here, so it is a good time to talk about the best sunscreen protection. Sunscreen is very importan, because it protects your skin from potentially harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays the sun is constantly producing. Soaking in the sun’s rays helps our bodies produce Vitamin D that is necessary for our health, but too much exposure comes with some risks. Without sunscreen, you’re risking developing skin cancer and conditions that damage the skin in other ways. No matter what outdoor activities you have planned, you can’t forget the sunscreen. Stick with the sunscreen 101 tips we give you here to make sure your summer fun won’t have a negative impact on your skin’s health.

When to apply and reapply sunscreen?

Sunscreen is a must whenever you’re going outside. This is because your skin is always exposed to the sun’s rays no matter how cloudy, sunny, cold, or hot it is. The best sunscreen protection practices don’t end with just one application before you head outside. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours. It’s also recommended that you first apply sunscreen 20 minutes before sun exposure. This allows time for it to dry. This is basic Sunscreen 101, and simply remembering to re-apply your sunscreen can prevent more than a sunburn. Using the best sunscreen protection throughout the day can also prevent sun spots, wrinkles, uneven skin tones, and other premature signs of aging. 

Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreens: which one should you choose?

Before you choose sunscreen, you need to understand the difference between mineral and chemical sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens are made with ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They sit on the surface of your skin and act as a shield against UV rays. Chemical sunscreens have active ingredients like avobenzone and oxybenzone and they get absorbed into your skin. Studies have shown that these ingredients can enter your bloodstream. But it’s unknown if they can cause any harm. If you have sensitive skin or are concerned about the ingredients being absorbed into your body, mineral sunscreen is the way to go.

When looking for the best sunscreen protection, you should also pay attention to SPF numbers. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The higher the number, the more UV rays the product will block. For example, a sunblock with SPF 15 blocks 93% of UV rays, while a product with SPF 50 blocks 98%. 

Another Sunscreen 101 tip we can share with you is to only use broad-spectrum sunblock. These products protect against both kinds of UV rays – UVA and UVB rays. Both are known to cause skin cancer, but there are some differences. UVA rays cause signs of aging, while UVB rays are to blame for sunburns. It’s because of this that the best sunscreen protection will always be broad-spectrum. 

For kids, do you need a children’s brand sunscreen?

For the most part, children under six months don’t need to wear sunscreen. These children should still be protected with clothing and shade. While many sunscreens may market themselves as formulated specifically for children, there really is no need to buy from these brands. The best sunscreen protection for adults will work just as well for children. 

How else can I protect my skin from the sun in Arizona?

In addition to wearing sunscreen and reapplying every few hours, you should wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. We also recommend limiting sun exposure between 10 am and 4 pm due to the sun’s rays being at their strongest during these hours. Sometimes you may forget to re-apply your sunscreen or can’t, so consider wearing clothes with built-in protection from the sun like UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) clothing. Additionally, consider doing the following:

  • Check the UV report every day
  • Don’t forget to apply sunblock to your ears and neck, even if you’re wearing a hat
  • Wear sunglasses that provide 100% UV protection to shield your eyes, too
  • Protect the skin on your lips with an SPF lip balm
  • Keep babies in the shade so their skin doesn’t burn

Have questions about our sunscreen 101 tips? Ask a primary care physician at Bayless Integrated Healthcare. Book an appointment with us today!