10 Tips for Protecting Your Skin from the Sun

July 21, 2015
Amber Bauer, ASCO staff

It’s probably one of the easiest ways to prevent millions of cases of cancer each year—sunscreen. However, most of us still forget to slather on the sunscreen. In fact, a recent study showed that just 14% of American men and 30% of American women regularly put sunscreen on their faces and other exposed skin before heading outside for more than an hour.

So what do you need to know about protecting your skin from the sun? Here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you finish out the summer.

How to protect your skin from the sun

  1. Use sunscreen every day, even if it’s cloudy.  
  2. Apply at least one ounce of sunscreen (enough to fill a shot glass) at least 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. Also use a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
  3. Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation. Make sure it is water resistant and has a SPF of 30 or higher. Other sunscreens may help keep you from getting sunburned, but they won’t protect against skin cancer.
  4. Reapply sunscreen every two hours. Reapply every hour if you are swimming or sweating. share on twitter 
  5. Be extra careful around water and sand. These surfaces reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of getting a sunburn.
  6. Keep babies younger than 6 months old completely covered and in the shade.
  7. Limit the amount of time you’re in the sun between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. This is when the sun's rays are the most intense. Practice the shadow rule: if your shadow is shorter than you, the sun's rays are at their strongest, and you should find shade.
  8. If possible, wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Dark clothing with tightly woven fabric blocks more sun than white or loosely woven fabrics. For additional protection, look for clothes made with special sun-protective materials.
  9. Accessorize with a hat that shades your face, neck, and ears and a pair of sunglasses. Sunglasses with lenses that have 99% to 100% UV absorption provide optimal protection for the eyes and the surrounding skin.
  10. Be even more cautious if you are taking medications that may make you more sensitive to the sun. share on twitter These include specific types of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, antifungals, blood pressure medications, and chemotherapies.