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Are you making these common sunscreen mistakes?

By Mary Daly
June 03, 2019, 2:34:51 PM EDT

snow shovel

About 1 in 5 people in the U.S. will develop skin cancer by the time they turn 70, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. And there are more skin cancer diagnoses each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. But the most unfortunate part is many of these cases could be prevented with proper sun protection.

Are you protecting your skin by using sunscreen correctly? Here are 11 common sunscreenmistakes — and how to solve them.

1. Not using enough

You pat yourself on the back for remembering sunscreen (make sure someone helps you cover any hard-to-reach areas back there), but are you sure you used enough? “Most people only apply 25-50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen,” according to the American Academy of Dermatology. “However, to fully cover their body, most adults need about one ounce of sunscreen — or enough to fill a shot glass.” You need enough to cover all your exposed skin, so don’t be stingy with how much you squeeze out of the bottle.

2. Overestimating the SPF

SPF indicates how long it will take your skin to redden in the sun with sunscreen versus without it. “So ideally, with SPF 30 it would take you 30 times longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen,” according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Experts generally recommend sunscreen that’s SPF 30 or higher, though that can vary based on health issues, sun exposure and more. But if you use a higher SPF, it’s important not to overestimate it. “In real life, products with very high SPFs often create a false sense of security,” the Skin Cancer Foundation says. “People who use them tend to stay out in the sun much longer. They may skip reapplying. And they may think they don’t need to seek shade, wear a hat or cover up with clothing. They end up getting a lot more UV damage.”

3. Waiting to apply

Maybe you’re in such a rush to get out of the house that you skip lathering up, promising yourself you’ll apply sunscreen once you reach your destination. Or you assume you won’t be outside long enough to necessitate sunscreen. But that’s unnecessarily putting your skin at risk. “It’s easy to think that if they’re out for short time, sunscreen isn’t necessary,” Cleveland Clinic says. “But it’s still exposure, and depending on the time of day, you can get a sunburn in very little time.” Plus, you need time for the sunscreen’s protective ingredients to bind to your skin before you go out. That’s why experts recommend applying it roughly 30 minutes prior to being in the sun.

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