Lay It on Thick!

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Sunscreen 101

So, you remembered to use sunscreen?

That's great, but don't pat yourself on the back. It could hurt.

Chances are you're not using enough sunscreen. Studies show that most people apply only 20 to 60 percent of the recommended amount.

But how do you measure sunscreen?

Squeeze enough onto your hand so that your entire area from the index to middle fingers are covered. Use this amount for each of the following areas:

  • Head, ears, neck and face
  • Arms
  • Upper and lower back
  • Upper and lower front torso
  • Legs
  • Tops of both feet

What to Apply

Choose a product with broad-spectrum coverage that protects from both types of harmful rays — ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B. Sunscreen should have a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 30.

When to Apply

Some sunscreens can take up to 30 minutes to fully absorb, so it's best to apply it before you go outside. Reapply at least every two hours — more frequently after swimming or sweating. No sunscreen is truly waterproof.

Layers of Protection

The more skin you can cover with clothing, the better. Clothes can offer UV protection. Synthetic material, such as polyester, is most effective. Also, wear a hat — ideally a wide-brimmed one — because your face and neck are most exposed to the sun. And don't forget sunglasses.

Keep Your Kids Safe in the Sun

Make sure your children are using sunscreen liberally. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting sunscreen use on infants until they are 6 months old. It's better to keep babies inside, because they can't regulate body temperature well and their skin is very sensitive.

Learn more: Protecting your skin is important, but there's more you can do to ensure safe outdoor fun. Read our 12 Safety Commandments to Live by This Summer.