It’s no secret that sunscreen is an essential must-have in the fight against melanoma, one of the most common skin cancers in the United States affecting 3.5 million each year.
But with the hustle of everyday life, we either skimp on application, forget to reapply or forgo it completely. While many of us use broad-spectrum sunscreens that protect against UVA and UVB rays to reduce our skin’s vulnerability to the sun, chemical filters found in sunscreens absorb UV rays and transform them into energy before they harm our skin.
What’s worse is these filters can often be unstable and break down if used incorrectly or in conjunction with other products that have active ingredients. To help maximize sun protection this spring and summer, we share five common saboteurs that might be undermining how your sunscreen works.
Being outside doesn’t just mean basking in the beauty of nature. It also means subjecting yourself to possible bug bites. Obviously we have our trusty insect repellent on hand, but did you know the active ingredients found in these products weaken sunscreen efficiency? A study from the National Institute of Health suggests those who use the bug spray like DEET and a sunscreen of SPF 15 had 30 percent lower SPF protection than those who put on sunscreen alone.
The solution: This study doesn’t mean you have to endure bug bites. In fact, numerous dermatologists recommend using sunscreen and insect repellents together, provided sunscreen is applied first and bug spray after. That said, while sunscreen is advised to be reapplied every couple of hours, bug spray should only be applied a maximum of twice a day. Anything more and it can become toxic, especially for kids.
Exfoliating skincare products
While glycolic acid, lactic acid, and salicylic acid are ingredients often found in facial cleansers and moisturizers, they can often make our outer layer of skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays. Sure they’re super impressive in smoothing our skin’s texture, but if you use them, take extra precaution when protecting your skin against the sun. Mild exfoliation exposes new layers of skin and increases your risk of sun sensitivity, along with sunburn.
The solution: When you head out, be sure to cover up with an SPF 30 and before turning in for the night, use products rich with alpha and beta hydroxyl acids to reduce your risk of sunburn.
Whether it’s an over the counter medication or a prescription drug, some medications like antihistamines, diuretics and antibiotics can heighten your skin’s vulnerability to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays or even trigger photosensitivity sometimes referred to as a sun allergy. Not only does this cause burns, but it also produces rashes, which are totally ‘no gusta.’
The solution: While you could opt for long sleeves, it’s imperative you talk to your doctor or pharmacist to see if any medications you’re currently on have an impact on your sun sensitivity.
With the way winter was, it’s evident we’re in for a warm, sunny spring and summer. And while keeping it within arm’s reach in our car’s glove compartment seems like a stellar idea, it’s actually one of the worst places to store it. With a primary goal to safeguard your skin from the sun’s rays, the active ingredients in sunscreen start to destabilize in its rendering of UVA and UVB filters, deeming them inactive.
The solution: Whether it’s a spray, cream, or gel, always store sunscreen in a cool, dry place like a drawer or closet. If you’re outside all day and hitting the pool often, find a shady spot for it like under a lawn chair or those pretty beach umbrellas.
Who doesn’t get hot and bothered during those warm, sunny days of spring and summer? If you’re someone who loves being outside and are active whether playing basketball with friends or cleaning up your garden for the season, most likely you’re going to sweat a lot. The thing about most sunscreens is they can break down easily by perspiration and water.
The solution: Of course, sunscreen today is innovative and catered to our active lifestyles so keep your eyes open for a sweat-proof and waterproof formula guaranteed to keep you protected. That said, try to avoid high intensity activities at high-noon when the sun is at its hottest as most sunscreens can only protect and last so long.