Everything to know about sun protection, according to a dermatologist

(BPT) - Sunscreen is a year-round necessity, but with the longer days of sunlight and warmer weather ahead, people are spending more time exposed to the sun, making it an essential. Whether it's a walk in a park or playing games in the backyard with family, it's important to be prepared for any time spent outside, starting with wearing sunscreen.

When the sun shines brighter and lasts longer, people get excited to spend more time outdoors, often overlooking just how important sun protection really is. In fact, only 2 percent of dermatologists believe their patients take sun protection very seriously, according to a new survey from CeraVe.

“Sunscreen should be worn every day regardless of season, but especially at a time of year when we spend more hours in the sun. It’s important to incorporate sunscreen into your daily skincare regimen,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Michelle Henry. “To maintain healthy skin throughout the dry, hot summer months, look for products that offer both hydration and broad-spectrum protection.”

To help clear up any sun care confusion, Dr. Henry offers her expert insight on six things to know about proper sun protection:

1. Mineral vs. chemical: What to choose

Many people do not know the difference between mineral and chemical sunscreens. While both types of sunscreen offer sun protection, they work differently. Chemical sunscreens use chemical filters that absorb into the skin and absorb UV rays to protect it, while mineral sunscreens use mineral filters that sit on the surface of the skin to reflect UV rays. Mineral sunscreens are great for people with all skin types, but especially for those with sensitive skin or those who are prone to conditions like eczema, rosacea and melasma. Heat can exacerbate these conditions, so mineral sunscreens are a nice option because they form a protective barrier over the skin to deflect harmful UVA and UVB rays instead of absorbing.

2. Sun damage can happen in a flash

You don’t need to spend hours in the sun to experience damage to your skin. A sunburn can happen within minutes of unprotected exposure. Every single person — regardless of how fair or dark your skin — is susceptible to sun damage. Moreover, many don’t realize that UVA and UVB rays can come through the clouds and UVA rays come through windows, so no matter what you are doing, even if it is sitting inside an office near a window, your skin is still exposed, so you need to use SPF protection.

3. Damage is more than just a sunburn

Sunburn isn’t the only damage that happens from sun exposure; it’s just the most immediate. Exposure to UVA rays leads to early skin aging and forms of skin cancer, while UVB ray exposure causes immediate physical effects, like sunburns. Sun damage can have effects that last well past the sunburn fading, which is why it is important to have a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both types of rays.

4. Sun exposure contributes to dehydrated skin

Spending time in the sun can strip skin of moisture and prolonged exposure can cause a breakdown of the skin barrier and ceramide depletion. To keep skin hydrated plus protected, use a product that offers sun protection plus skincare benefits, like CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen. CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen is a broad spectrum mineral sunscreen that protects your skin in the sun and contains ceramides to lock in moisture and restore the skin’s natural barrier.

5. Reapplication is key

Three-quarters of dermatologists believe that less than half of their patients are reapplying sunscreen throughout the day, according to the survey. Applying sunscreen once does not protect your skin all day long. Strive to reapply approximately every two hours when outdoors, especially if you are sweating from hot weather or participating in a sport or activity.

6. Add extras for further protection

In addition to sunscreen, be mindful of other ways to help shield your skin from harmful rays. Wearing a hat and sunglasses can help protect the head, ears, face and neck, while light layers or UV protecting clothing can help block sun rays from reaching your body. Consider cotton as it breathes well to keep you cool. Finally, pack an umbrella or tent to make your own shade during events that are in full sun exposure, like the beach or a sports game.

“I don’t want my patients to be afraid to enjoy sunny days or time outside,” says Henry. “With proper care, hydration and protection anyone can maintain a healthy relationship with the sun!”

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