Times have changed, and thankfully many of us have put tanning salons on our blacklist, traded our oils for SPF, and learned to love our untanned skin. Unfortunately, recent research suggests that a large number of us still aren’t getting the most out of our sunscreen.

According to a survey conducted by the American Academy Dermatology (AAD), consumers often misunderstand the meaning of SPF numbers and, therefore, may not be using the products correctly.

Know your numbers

We all see SPF labels on bottles of sunscreen, but many people don’t know what the numbers mean. Basic math tells us that the higher you go, the more protection you get—but did you know that the difference between, for instance, SPF 30 and 50 boils down to just around a 2% increase in protection? If your answer is no, you’re not alone.

A higher SPF sunscreen will not protect your skin for longer periods of time than a lower-SPF sunscreen.

Of the AAD survey respondents, only 32% knew that an SPF 30 sunscreen does not offer double the protection as an SPF 15 sunscreen. Additionally, only 45% of respondents knew that a higher SPF sunscreen will not protect your skin for longer periods of time than a lower-SPF sunscreen.

Additionally, researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of medicine conducted a study of 758 people with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer and 34,141 in a controlled group. The patients with a history of skin cancer were more likely to take preventative measures, though ended up getting sunburns as often as the control group.

It turns out that even people who religiously use sunscreen may not be applying the optimal amount, fully covering their exposed skin, or reapplying often enough to prevent sunburn.

Learn how to apply sunscreen correctly

While these studies suggest many of us are in the dark when it comes to sunscreen, it’s easy to learn how to properly protect your skin. Simply follow these tips:

  • Apply a generous amount to ensure the entire area is covered and well protected. Less is not more in this case.
  • Use at least an SPF 30, regardless of cloud cover.
  • Reapply every two hours; more often if you are sweating or swimming.
  • Wear protective clothing during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Cover all of your body (including ears, lips, hands, and feet).

Talk with a skincare professional

Protecting your skin isn’t just a seasonal practice—it’s important to follow healthy habits year round. Working closely with a skincare professional can help ensure you’re using the right products for your skin, applying them properly, and taking care of any mishaps that happen along the way. If you’re ready to partner with an expert team who can help you give your skin the very best, please contact us today!

To read the full article on sunscreen misconceptions, click here.

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