1. Apply sunscreen liberally 20 minutes before sun exposure. Most people use too little. In fact, according to a study published in the Archives of Dermatology, sunscreen users only apply 50 percent of the recommended amount so they are only receiving 50 percent of the SPF protection. An average adult in a bathing suit requires one ounce (equivalent to two tablespoons or shot glass full) of sunscreen to cover the entire body. For small children, one tablespoon should be used on the entire body.
2. Make sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours throughout the day. SPF is an FDA rating system that determines how long a sunscreen provides protection against sunburn. For example, if you normally burn within 10 minutes of sun exposure, an SPF 2 will allow you to stay outside twice as long (i.e. 20 minutes). An SPF 15 would theoretically allow you to stay outside 15 times longer (10 minutes x 15 = 150 minutes or 2.5 hours.) Even with this promise of 2.5 hours of protection, sunscreen should be applied every two hours because it loses its effectiveness as it breaks down and rubs off from normal wear and perspiration.
3. Use an SPF 15 or higher for both children and adults. For babies and children, particularly those with sensitive or fair skin, I recommend mineral sunscreens with active ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, like the one I created Dr. Robin for Kids all-natural, chemical-free broad spectrum SPF 30+.
4. Don't rely on clothing alone to protect you against sun exposure. Clothing offers some protection but not enough. For example, a white T-shirt has an SPF of about 7 (this decreases to about 4 when wet). In general, looser weave cotton and lighter colored fabrics offer less protection than denser weaves and darker colors. Of course, you can now buy sun-protective clothing made from fabric specifically designed to block UV rays.
5. There is no such thing as a completely waterproof sunscreen. There are inactive ingredients that make some sunscreens more water resistant than others but even if your sunscreen is labeled water resistant, it is still important to reapply after swimming and sweating.
Make sure your duffle bag is packed with one of this season's best sunscreens and be sure to keep in mind these summer hair care dos and don'ts.