“Anyone and everyone who is going to be outside for any period of time should be wearing sunscreen to protect against skin cancer,” says Dr. Rajiv Nijhawan, a dermatologist with the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “While skin cancer is less common in people of color, when it is found, it is often diagnosed at later stages and can be more serious.”
It’s also important to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen. “The SPF grading system only covers UVB light, but UVA light also causes skin cancer, including melanoma,” says Dr. Nijhawan, Assistant Professor of Dermatology. The words “broad spectrum” indicate that protection is provided for both UVB and UVA light.
Here are more sunscreen tips from Dr. Nijhawan:
- Look for an SPF of at least 30. Most makeup and moisturizer that contain sunscreen do not have enough SPF, so you should apply sunscreen as well.
- Use more than you think you should. In general, it takes about 1 ounce – or a shot glass’ worth – to cover all exposed skin.
- Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside. Most sunscreen takes time to be absorbed for it to work.
- Reapply sunscreen every few hours and especially after swimming and toweling off. It wears off, even if the label says “waterproof.”
- UVA light penetrates glass, so apply sunscreen before a car ride, even if you’re going garage to garage.
- For children between 6 months and 2 years, use a sunscreen that works as a physical blocker. Check the label. Older children can use the same sunscreen that adults use.
Regardless of sunscreen use, the best protection is to avoid the sun as much as possible by wearing wide-brimmed hats, sun-protective clothing, and staying in the shade whenever possible, he says.