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5 Things Even Smart People Get Wrong About Sunscreen

A glorious day in the great outdoors is one of the best ways we can imagine spending our time. Lounging at the beach, hiking through the forest or mountains, jogging, playing in the park – all depend on good weather.

But when the sun is shining, and even when it’s hiding behind the clouds, it emits intense UV rays which are detrimental to our skin after prolonged exposure. Fortunately, most people know sunscreen is an inexpensive and readily available form of protection. But many people also misuse sunscreen and end up not getting the best out of their sun protection.

Here, the expert panel at Art Plastic Surgery highlights five of the most common sunscreen mistakes and simple ways to correct them.

Not Using Enough

Most people don’t use enough sunscreen to provide maximum sun protection.

To adequately cover the face, neck, shoulders, back, belly, and legs, most adults need around 30 milliliters, or a shot glass, of sunscreen to work correctly. Depending on how much skin you have showing, make sure you are generous with the product – more is better.

Bad Timing

The active ingredients in sunscreen that sit on top of the skin and reflect the sun’s rays – titanium dioxide and zinc oxide – take around 15 minutes to settle into your skin and provide active protection. Unfortunately, 15 minutes of unprotected exposure to UV rays is more than enough time to cause some degree of burning, and repeatedly doing so will eventually lead to sunspots and an increased risk of skin cancer.

Another mistiming issue is that these ingredients generally wear off after two hours, at which point you need to reapply for protection.

Using Old, Expired Products

The older your sunscreen gets, the higher the chemical decay of the active ingredients in the bottle. The SPF factor written on the front of the bottle could be considerably less if the product is out of date.

Each year, buy new sunscreen to ensure you get maximum protection benefits.

Not Covering All Exposed Skin

Many people will only put sunscreen on their face and neck, neglecting the rest of their bodies. In truth, you should take steps to cover all exposed skin.

Take the infamous “trucker arm,” for instance. Prolonged sessions of driving their vehicles with their left arms hanging out the window have led to a statistically higher number of skin cancers on the left arms of truck drivers – as opposed to their right arms, which remain mostly in the truck’s cabin. This phenomenon is purely due to the exposure of a specific body part to the sun.

If you plan to expose any part of your body to the sun, cover it in sunscreen. Even better, wear long sleeves, pants, and hats.

It’s Cloudy – No Need for Sunscreen

This misconception is pervasive and dangerous. Cloudy days lead to more sunburns than sunny days do, because the heat factor doesn’t alert people to their overexposure to the sun. Even on cloudy days, the damaging UV rays of the sun penetrate the clouds straight down to our skin.

If you have experienced sun-damaged skin, in particular localized discoloration or sunspots, there are several cosmetic procedures available to help resurface your skin and restore your fine, even skin tone.

Be sure to practice proper sun care. We at Art Plastic Surgery would love to help answer any questions you may have or to assist you in booking a consultation to reverse some of the damage done in the sun. Reach out at 201-251-6622 or fill out our online form today.