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Tips for Using Sunscreen 

by Staff Writer
With skin cancer being the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the United States and the majority of skin cancer incidences being caused by ultraviolet damage, taking steps to protect your skin from the sun is important for lowering your cancer risk. Sunscreen is a highly effective way to reduce your risk of skin cancer, but only when it is used correctly. To ensure that you're getting full protection from your sunscreen every time you head outdoors, follow these tips.

When to Apply Sunscreen

Skin care experts, including those at the Skin Cancer Foundation, recommend the use of sunscreen on a daily basis. That means that you should apply a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 every day before you leave the house. Even if you'll just be walking to and from your car when you get to work or while you run errands, your skin is being exposed to ultraviolet radiation and requires protection. When you're going to be out in the sun for an extended period of time, the use of sunscreen is even more important. On such occasions, apply your sunscreen at least 30 minutes before you plan to expose your skin to the sun to give the formula time to take effect. Sun care products should be used all year round for protection outdoors, as your skin can still suffer UV damage on cloudy days and during the winter months.

How Often Should You Reapply Sunscreen?

No sunscreen can provide all-day protection, making it important that you reapply your sunscreen on a regular basis. Reapply at least every 2 hours regardless of what SPF level you're using to protect your skin. If you are swimming, are exercising or sweating heavily, you'll need to reapply your sunscreen more frequently. The packaging for water-resistant sunscreens will normally indicate precisely how long the formulas remain potent in the water or when sweating, so follow the recommended reapplication schedule from the manufacturer for best results.

Applying Creams and Lotions Correctly

Cream and lotion sunscreens are very similar to apply, however, cream sunscreens are thicker, so they may be more difficult to work into the skin. You can help make the process easier by putting the cream on your hands and working it back and forth between your palms before you begin to apply it in order to soften it. Always use at least 1 ounce of sunscreen, about the size of a shot glass, when you're applying sunscreen all over. If only your face will be exposed during the winter months, 1 teaspoon should be sufficient. Apply the lotion or cream with circular motions being careful to spread the formula over every part of your body, including your nose, ears, neck, the backs of your hands and the tops of your feet.

Getting the Most out of a Spray

Spray sunscreens are fast and convenient, but it can be very easy to miss a spot when you're using a spray formula. Take your time and be sure to slowly move the sunscreen bottle all along your body. Never apply a spray sunscreen directly to the face. Instead, spray it on your hands and then massage the formula onto your skin being sure to distribute the liquid over the ears, neck and nose.

By taking the time to apply sunscreen carefully, you'll increase your chances of getting full protection from the sun and reduce your chances of sunburn while also minimizing the damage that can lead to signs of premature aging. You can also reduce your risk of skin cancer. Set timers on your cell phone or watch to help you remember throughout the day and keep the protection going strong.