Your Guide to Sunscreen SPF and Proper Application

Whether it’s a weekend getaway to the beach, a day out fishing on the lake, or just a few hours spent with friends and family in the backyard, we get plenty of exposure to the suns rays in Louisiana. Our hot climate affords plenty of opportunities for outdoor activity, but it also means we have to be vigilant against both the short and long term effects of UV exposure. At The Dermatology Clinic, we help our patients understand the importance of proper sun protection and how to select and use the right sunscreen.

What Does SPF Actually Mean?

Young Woman Smiling At Beach

SPF stands for “sun protection factor” and is actually a statement of a fraction. SPF 15 means that the sunscreen is estimated (by laboratory testing) to allow in 1/15 of the sun’s harmful rays. SPF 30 means only 1 out of every 30 of the sun’s rays reach the skin, and so on. Note that this means no sunscreen blocks out 100% of the sun’s rays, as even SPF 100 would only block out 99% of the rays.

How Can You Keep Your Skin Protected?

While the required SPF and sunscreen type may vary depending on a person’s skin tone, it’s advisable to pick a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Look for a sunscreen that’s labeled as providing “broad spectrum” coverage, as this will protect against both UV-A and UV-B. Apply sunscreen to all parts of exposed skin, including commonly skipped areas like the backs of ears and the tops of feet. Also don’t forget about your lips. It takes about 15 minutes for sunscreen to absorb into the skin and become effective, so keep that in mind and try to apply well in advance of going outdoors. Most importantly, reapply sunscreen after going in the water (yes, even if it’s waterproof sunscreen) every one hour and every two hours regardless of activity.

A sunburn can be an extremely uncomfortable and painful thing to have to deal with, but it also increases a person’s risk of skin cancer. Our doctors and aestheticians are here to work with you to find the right sun protection products for your whole family. Call us today at (225) 769-7546 to schedule an appointment.

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