Sunscreen Before You Scream

by Jacqueline Garcia

As the end of the school year draws near, temperatures rise with each passing day. With rising temperatures come more acute effects of ultraviolet radiation. Applying sunscreen each day is necessary to protect ourselves from the extreme Georgia rays. If you carry sunscreen throughout the day (which you should),  be sure to read the instructions and apply sunscreen as directed. The recommended times for applying sunscreen are in the morning (before you step out in the sun), and after getting wet or sweating.

Sunburns are painful, and they take time to heal. According to the Mayo Clinic, some symptoms of sunburn are itching, swelling, pain, tenderness, inflammation, and blisters filled with fluid. The severity of the sunburn and its symptoms is impacted by how much sunscreen was applied before the burn – if any. Most importantly, sunscreen is vital in the prevention of skin cancer, which 1 in 5 Americans will develop in their lifetime (according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association).

Tips for wearing sunscreen

Some people believe that sunscreen should only be applied to certain areas of the body like the face, arms, and legs. Although those three areas of the body are important, so are the others!  Many tend to forget about their necks, ears, and back. One key thing to remember is that sunscreen should be used anywhere that isn’t covered by clothes or footwear.

Additionally, remember that you want to use enough sunscreen to protect your skin. Some people apply small amounts of sunscreen to conserve as much product as possible; this can actually be actually dangerous for your skin. The AAD recommends using 1 ounce of sunscreen – or roughly enough to fill a shot glass – to cover the whole body. 

A final piece of advice: make sure to use other items such as sunglasses and hats to protect yourself from the sun. While sunscreen can be effective on its own, it can better prevent skin damage when used with other sun-protectants.

Sunscreen Recommendations

Many are unsure of the type of sunscreen they should be wearing and how to use it. When buying sunscreen, it’s best to look for the following: UVA and UVB protection (broad spectrum), an SPF of 30 or higher, and water resistance. UVA and UVB rays are two types of ultraviolet (UV) rays produced by the sun. Both varieties cause cancer, which is why it is important to have sunscreen that protects against the two. 

I did some research to find the best sunscreens on the market. According to the New York Times (NYT), the Blue Lizard Sensitive Sunscreen SPF 50+ and the Banana Boat Light as Air Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 were the top choices in “an extensive brand-concealed panel testing”. The NYT also recommends the Equate Sport Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 50 and the Thrive Bodyshield SPF 50. The sunscreen I use for my face and neck is the Neutrogena Age Shield Face Oil-Free Sunscreen with Broad Spectrum SPF 70, which is another wonderful option.