Summer-Proof Yourself: Is Your Sunscreen Working for You?

Thank you, Baptist Health for providing this important message to our Jacksonville Moms!

By Kristen Stewart, MD, Dermatologist

It’s a beautiful summer day and you want to get out there and soak up the sun. Before you step out, let’s talk about summer-proofing yourself and your family.

You can enjoy each day to the fullest with a few smart choices. First, plan your outdoor activities for either early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the strongest midday sun. Find shade and wear protective clothing when able.

No matter what time of day it is, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Broad spectrum means it protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more is a good choice. We don’t call it sunblock anymore because no product out there completely blocks the sun.

Since we live in the Sunshine State, apply SPF 30 or higher to your face, neck, chest and the back of your hands every morning. If you wear makeup, put it under your makeup daily. Think of sunscreen as a basic necessity – like brushing your teeth every morning. A facial moisturizer that contains sunscreen might save you time, but make sure it’s SPF 30 or higher.

Reapply sunscreen every two hours if you’re going to be outside. No sunscreen is completely waterproof or sweat-proof. If you’re going to be at the beach or in and out of the pool, you’ll want to use a water-resistant sunscreen. The same goes for working in the yard because you’ll sweat it off. Sunscreen labels will state whether the product is water resistant for 40 minutes or 80 minutes.

Sunscreen Works When you Apply it Properly

The main reason sunscreen doesn’t work is operator error: Sometimes we apply it too thinly or unevenly. Here’s the fix: Apply two coats. Say you are going to the beach or the pool; apply the first coat at home at least 15 minutes before sun exposure and then re-apply when you get to your destination. It’s kind of like painting a wall; the second coat helps ensure your skin is covered evenly and decreases the risk of missed spots or not having enough protection.

People often ask, “Do I need sunscreen every day?” The answer is, yes! You can’t undo the sun damage already done to your skin, but you can prevent more damage from happening. Most people don’t realize how exposed they are to “here and there sun.” Small amounts of sun exposure each day adds up over the years. You might be driving in the car, or in and out of your house or office building and not realize how much sun you’re getting.

I keep a list of my favorite sunscreen products to give to my patients. My list changes all the time as new products are introduced. I tell people to try different ones until they find a favorite. The best sunscreen for you is the one you like because that’s the one you’ll use.

Chasing the Kids with Sunscreen

For kids, it might be easier to get them to apply sunscreen from a stick, especially to get their faces covered. A newer option is a powder sunscreen product that is similar to a makeup powder foundation and is applied with a brush.

Sunscreens that come in bottles with a trigger spray work well to cover bodies and don’t feel as cold as aerosol sprays. Often when talking about sun protection measures, the emphasis is on sunscreen, but, again, avoiding exposure during peak sun hours, wearing protective clothing and finding shade is critical.

Remember: Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, lip balm with SPF and cover up with clothing.

Summer-Proof Yourself

Don’t miss Dr. Stewart’s free talk at 4HER Wellness Wednesday, June 28 at the 4HER Center for Women inside the Baptist Y Healthy Living Center Riverside (first floor, Winston Family YMCA, 221 Riverside Avenue, Jacksonville).


Dr. Stewart is a dermatologist on the medical staff of Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville, Baptist Medical Center South and Wolfson Children’s Hospital.


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