If sunscreen application were graded, a huge majority of us would be receiving a big fat F.
Published by JAMA Dermatology, in a survey of 156 U.S. dermatologists, 99 percent of dermatologists were in agreement that their patients don’t apply enough sunscreen. What’s more, 100 percent of them agreed that sunscreen reduces premature aging of the skin; 97 percent agreed that it also lowers the risk of cancer; and 96 percent consider sunscreens approved by the FDA that are currently available in the U.S. to be safe.
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So why are we still in such a roadblock situation when it comes to applying a proper amount of this skin-saving stuff? The study says it might not totally be our fault, and points out that “there have been other conflicting messages about sunscreen (sometimes without scientific support) that have led to confusion by the public.”
Confusion or not, Santa Monica, CA, dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD, says she completely agrees with this consensus that people still aren’t wearing enough. Her quick rule: “Be sure that every inch of exposed skin is covered with a thick layer of sunscreen. This includes ears, back of the neck, chest, and the back of your hands. Adequate coverage is approximately one shot glass of sunscreen per limb, half a shot glass for the face, and one shot glass for the neck and chest.”
Beyond the “shot glass rule,” the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using an SPF of at least 30, looking for a broad-spectrum sunscreen (which protects against UVA and UVB rays), as well as one that is water-resistant, and applying 15 minutes before you go outside.