UV radiation, be it from the sun or a tanning bed, damages the DNA of skin cells. To make matters worse, the thinning of the earth's protective ozone layer is believed to amplify UV radiation levels. Using sunscreens with a skin protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more will filter out most of these harmful UV rays.
- During all outdoor activities, including gardening, playing sports, walking and jogging, as well as going to the beach, use a sunscreen that blocks both UV-A and UV-B radiation.
- Sunscreens work best when applied liberally to all exposed skin, about 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapplied every few hours or after swimming or sweating.
- Don't miss the backs of your hands, and don't be fooled by an overcast day: UV light penetrates clouds and can still harm unprotected skin.
- Wearing a baseball cap or wide-brimmed hat in addition to your sunscreen offers additional protection.
What is SPF?
The SPF number tells you how much longer you can stay in the sun without burning if you apply the sunscreen. For example, if you normally burn after 20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure, applying a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 gives you 15 times the protection and will protect you for as long as five hours.