Charleston Dermatology Blog

The SPF Essentials: Breaking Down the Basics of Proper Skin Protection

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From beach days at our beautiful shore to backyard barbeques with friends and family, there’s never a shortage of summer fun for citizens across the Lowcountry. However, without proper protection for your skin, that fun in the sun can lead to discomfort or even worse. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With proper SPF knowledge and application, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from the strong southern sun and make way for the best summer yet!

How does sunscreen help?

Though the warm sunshine can feel nice on our skin, the sun’s warmth is also accompanied by two types of harmful radiation: UVA and UVB. The first, UVA, is mainly responsible for the cosmetic effects of skin damage. This includes signs of aging, like wrinkles, discoloration and sagging. The second, UVB, is more carcinogenic and is more responsible for sunburns and the development of skin cancer. When we apply sunscreen, it’s as if we are donning a coat of armor to shield bare skin from the sun’s UV attacks.

Who needs sunscreen?

While certain skin types and tones may be more resistant to harmful UV rays, no one is immune to their damaging effects. In fact, a Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology study found that Black individuals were more likely to develop deadly skin cancer than other participants. 

Regular SPF application is highly advised for people of all ages, with the exception of babies and toddlers younger than six months old, whose highly-sensitive skin is at higher risk of irritation by the chemicals in sunscreen. Instead, parents should protect their young child’s skin with light, tightly woven clothing accompanied by a large brim hat for total protection. These same precautions are also effective for people of any age when sunscreen is not an option.

When should I wear sunscreen?

Sunscreen is for more than just sunny days. Although you may feel protected in cool or cloudy weather, you’ll still want to apply your SPF, which will protect your skin from harmful UV radiation that can penetrate cloud coverage and, in some cases, may even be stronger due to how it reflects through the cloud. If you’re heading outside for an extended period of time, SPF protection should always be applied. 

What are sunscreen essentials?

With a sun as strong as ours, knowing what to look for regarding SPF may seem simple but can be lifesaving. If you’re heading outdoors this summer, keep this information in mind when applying your sunscreen:

  • Choose sunscreens that are “broad spectrum” to guard against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Opt for sunscreens that are at least SPF 30+
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before heading outdoors for extended periods
  • Choose water-resistant sunscreens, especially if you are swimming or a heavy sweater
  • Reapply sunscreen about every two hours 

Explore more tips and insights on sunscreen in this article by the Skin Cancer Foundation: https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-prevention/sun-protection/sunscreen/

Our board-certified dermatologists are here to help.

Skin health and safety are a full-time commitment. Luckily, you’re not in the fight alone. At Charleston Dermatology, our team of skincare experts is here to help your skin look and feel its best. Contact us today to schedule a visit with one of our board-certified dermatologists.

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