How does your sunscreen measure up?

It is so important to make sure that you wear sunscreen every day, but with summer approaching we thought we would do some refreshers on what you should make sure your sunscreen has! When looking for a sunscreen most people look simply at the SPF or the sun protection factor most sunscreens range between 2 and 50. Theoretically what that number means is its ability to block out the sun’s harmful rays, and how long you can stay in the sun without getting burned. This is especially important living in Colorado because we are closer to the sun. For example, if you were to use an SPF 15 you would be able to stay out in the sun 15x longer then you normally would without sunscreen on. The higher the SPF the more rays it will block out.

When choosing a sunscreen it can be difficult with all of the different options out there. Dr. Schutte suggests using and SPF of 40 or higher everyday with living in Colorado. If you have fair skin and burn easily then you might want to do a higher SPF. You want to make sure that your sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB rays or is broad spectrum.  With UVA or the “aging” rays they are going to penetrate deep into your skin and can increase advanced wrinkling, sun spots, and age spots. With UVB or the “burning” rays will burn your skin. You want to make sure that your sunscreen protects against all UV rays. Lastly you want to make sure that if you are outdoors a lot that you reapply after 2-3 hours and always after swimming or sweating so it doesn’t wear off as easily.

Most sunscreens these days are chemical based. They contain special ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that are translucent so they blend well into your skin. Always wait 20 minutes before going out into the sun with chemical sunscreens to make sure that you get the best protection.

With living in a state like Colorado sunscreen should always be a part of your daily morning regimen.  Some important things you should look for is a full spectrum sunscreen or one that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Make sure that you apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going outdoors to make sure that you reapply every 2-3 hours even on overcast days. Lastly keep an eye on the expiration date and don’t use sunscreens that have expired, they will be less effective. All of us here at Front Range Plastic Surgery care about our patients and want to make sure that you have fun and are safe out in the sun!

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