While it’s important to wear sunscreen all year long, the sun’s UV rays are strongest during the summer months, making it a critical time to lather up. But, choosing a sunscreen can be tricky. With varying SPFs, water- and sweat-proof claims, and different textures (sprays, creams, sticks), it can be hard to know what’s what. Below, we guide you through choosing a sunscreen that is safe and offers adequate protection from UVB and UVA rays.

Here’s what to look for in a sunscreen:

Opt for Broad Spectrum.

All sunscreens protect against UVB rays–the leading cause of sunburn and skin cancers. However, only products with the Broad Spectrum label will also guard against UVA rays. UVA rays can lead to premature aging and contribute to skin cancer.

Choose a Sunscreen with SPF 30 or Higher

Did you know that SPF stands for sun protection factor? It’s calculated based on the time it takes for skin to burn when treated with the sunscreen as compared to no sunscreen. SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97% of UVB rays.

Go with water-resistant.

When a product is labeled “water resistant”, it means that the SPF can last up to 40 minutes in water. “Very water resistant” can maintain the SPF for 80 minutes in water. However, it’s still possible for it to wash off while swimming or sweating. We recommend you reapply after each dip or strenuous activity to maintain adequate protection.Other things to consider when it comes to sunscreen:

  • The sun is strongest between 10am – 4pm.
  • Apply generously 15 minutes before you head outside, on all skin exposed to the sun. This includes your ears, scalp, neck, and tops of feet. Use a lip balm with SPF 30.
  • Use sunscreen even when it’s cloudy.
  • Always check the sunscreen’s expiration date.
  • Surfaces such as water, snow, and concrete can reflect rays and increase your risk of burning.
  • Don’t merely rely on sunscreen. Wear protective clothing, find shade, and limit your time in the direct sun.
We hope this information helps you have safe fun in the sun this summer.

If you suffer a sunburn or think you may have sun poisoning, head to the nearest Maine Urgent Care for treatment and relief.