Getting the Most from Your Sunscreen

Check out our expert's advice before you head outdoors this summer.

By Marie Elizabeth Oliver


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Father with son on shoulders at the beach 1
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Is Your Family Sun Smart?

    You should make it a priority to protect your skin from the sun every day -- especially in the hot summer sun. Here, Beth Lange, PhD, senior director at the Coppertone Solar Research Center, gives you her top tips for getting the most from your sunscreen.

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Wear Sunscreen Daily

    Apply sunscreen every morning, not just before trips to the beach. For the best all-day protection, look for a sunscreen that's SPF 15 or higher. Ones with avobenzone are even better because they protect you from both UVB and UVA rays.

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Take Cover

    In addition to sunscreen, you should wear hats, protective clothing, and sunglasses while outdoors. Stay in the shade midday, when the sunlight is strongest, and drink lots of fluids. Fresh-squeezed lemonade, anyone?

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Be a Good Sport

    If your family is planning to spend an active day in the pool, on the beach, or at the ballpark, you need a sunscreen that will stand strong against the elements. Look for products designed to be long lasting, sweat proof, and waterproof, to ensure you're getting the best protection possible.

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Allow for Dry Time

    Your waterproof sunscreen may offer immediate protection, but it's crucial to wait for it to dry before jumping into the water, according to Lange. Otherwise, it will wash off.

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Think Kid-Friendly

    Buying specialized sunscreen for your little ones can pay off. Many of these products are specially formulated to work with children's sensitive skin.

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Go for Convenience

    The easier your sunscreen is to apply, the more likely you are to use it. Spray sunscreens can be more convenient than creamy sunscreens -- especially if you're on the go -- and they can provide coverage that's equally effective.

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Treat Burns Carefully

    If you do get sunburned, apply a soothing gel or moisturizer. See your family physician if the burn is severe and schedule yearly exams with a dermatologist to have your skin checked for suspicious moles.

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