Claremont has been unusually cold for this time of year (Thanks global warming…). It’s been cloudy and the sun has made very few appearances until just recently. Not your usual picturesque sunny southern California beach weather. So is that sunscreen you restocked on at the beginning of the semester going to waste? The answer in short: It shouldn’t be! Cloudy and murky, rain or shine, sunscreen should be incorporated into your routine on the daily, and here are just a few helpful facts and tips to keep your skin healthy and protected:
- Contrary to popular belief, even if it’s cool or cloudy outside, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can pass through cloud coverage. For this reason, people often end up with serious sunburns on overcast days if they’ve spent time outside with no sun protection.
- Does a higher-SPF (sun protection factor) sunscreen always protect your skin better than a lower-SPF sunscreen? Not necessarily. Always aim for a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for optimal protection, but above SPF 50 (which blocks about 98 percent of UVB rays), the increase in UVB protection is minimal.
- Products with very high SPFs may also encourage individuals to neglect other precautionary behaviors like seeking out shade and wearing sun-protective clothing. Sunscreens with very high SPFs can create a false sense of security, prompting users to stay out in the sun longer or go for extended durations without reapplication.
- Reapply every two hours, and if you’ll be getting wet or partaking in a sweat-inducing activity, use a water-resistant sunscreen and reapply every 40-80 minutes.
- Look for a broad spectrum sunscreen. These products have ingredients that absorb into your skin and block or absorb both UVA and UVB rays from penetrating your skin. Use products that contain one of the following to get broad spectrum protection:
o Zinc oxide: Mineral, physical UV block
o Titanium dioxide: Mineral, physical UV block
o Avobenzone: Chemical, UV absorber
o Mexoryl: Chemical, UV absorber
- The expiration date matters! Be sure to buy products that won’t expire soon after purchase. Store sunscreen in a cool, dark place.
- When sunscreen gets too hot, it loses its effectiveness. As a rule of thumb, avoid direct sun exposure between the hours of 10am and 4pm, as this is when UV rays are at their strongest.