Seven common sunscreen mistakes

Remember, if skin is exposed to the sun it is vulnerable to damage.
Remember, if skin is exposed to the sun it is vulnerable to damage.

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Sunscreen is the best way to protect your skin from the sun's damaging rays, but Dermatologist Dr. Laci Theunissen says there are some common sunscreen mistakes that can really burn.

1. Skimping on the sunscreen.

"You should use at least a shot glass full of sunscreen on your entire body when you go to apply it," said Theunissen.

Theunissen says the popular spray sunscreens can make this more challenging, because it is hard to tell if you're truly covered.  She says it's always better to apply too much.

2. Only protecting your skin at the beach or pool

"Driving to work, getting in and out of the car, those are all cumulative exposures to sun that over time can lead to sun damage and skin cancer," Theunissen.

The dermatologist reminds her patients that the sun shines in the city as well as the beach, and that sun screen protection is needed every day.

3. Missing Spots

Theunissen says the tops of the ears, the lips, the tops of the feet and the scalp tend to be over looked when applying sunscreen.  Remember, if it is exposed to the sun it is vulnerable to damage.

4. Only applying sunscreen on sunny days

"Especially in Louisiana, the weatherman says one thing or predicts one thing and then it's just crazy weather and all the sudden it's sunny," said Theunissen.

She also explains that UV rays can penetrate through clouds and fog, so overcast days do not offer protection.

5. Thinking water resistant means no re-applying

Water resistant does not mean the sunscreen cannot rub off, and the FDA won't even allow the term water-proof to be used anymore.  Theunissen says to reapply after getting in the water, and every couple of hours.

6. Thinking tanning is ok with sunscreen

Don't be fooled by tanning products that include a low SPF.  The dermatologist says these offer little, if any protection and regular tanning leads to premature aging.  Instead, stick with at least 30 SPF.

7. Using expired sunscreen.

"There are probably preservatives in there that will degrade the active ingredient and make it not quite as effective," said Theunissen.

Always use sunscreen before the expiration date listed on the bottle, or within two years of opening.  Old sunscreen also runs the risk of contamination by germs. 

More sunscreen info can be found here.    

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