Krystal Blue Intl.

Sunscreen – When is enough?

Fact:  1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime
Fact:  1 in 50 Americans will develop melanoma by 2015
Fact:  The most common form of cancer among American women is non-melanoma skin cancer
Fact:  Most people don’t apply to enough sunscreen to be effective

How much sunscreen do you apply daily and to what parts of your body?  How much do you apply when you are going boating or to the beach?  How often do you re-apply sunscreen?   The answer is –not nearly enough to be effective.   Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone who applies the correct amount of sunscreen, often enough, including me and I know better!

Sunscreens are carbon based chemical sunscreens that absorb the UV rays and differ from sunblocks, which are mineral based zinc or titanium dioxide options.  For sunscreens, 1 to 2 oz per application is needed to be truly effective in limiting those harmful UVA and UVB rays.  That is one to two SHOT GLASSES full and you need to apply them 30 minutes before going into the sun.  For your face and neck, you need to apply a quarter size dollop to get the correct amount of coverage.   You need to reapply after swimming or every 2-3 hours.

So what happens if we don’t apply the correct amount?  If you use ½ oz (or ½ shot glass full) per body application of an SPF 50 sunscreen, your actual SPF coverage will be an SPF 7.  If you use the same amount of an SPF 15, you get SPF 4 coverage.  Hmmmm…let’s think about that since the recommended lowest sunscreen coverage is SPF 30 these days…..

What about spray sunscreens?  That is more difficult to measure, but make sure you use a continuous spray sunscreen and you need to apply 2 coats every hour to be effective.

Sunblocks like zinc or titanium dioxide are micronized particles that offer a different method of protection since they reflect the sun’s rays.  Because of the reflective method of protection, you can actually use less sunblock to be effective.  For body coverage, you can work with 1 Tablespoon, or ½ oz to get full SPF coverage.  For the face, a pea size application should do it, but try to dab multiple dots around your face and then smooth it so get an even layer without any white spots.  Since these chemical free sunblocks are reflective, coverage starts immediately upon application so no need to apply early.  You still need to re-apply every 2-3 hours.

Remember, that 6 oz spray or 8 oz tube should only be lasting you a maximum or 6 or 8 applications.  This means if you’re in the sun 4-6 hours at a time and reapply correctly, that sunscreen should be empty after 2-3 days in the sun.  If not, you know you aren’t using enough!

Other options?  Combine your time in the sun with sun protective clothing to minimize the amount of sunscreen you need and make  sure you are protecting your skin exactly where you need it most.  For some versatile UPF 30-50+ options that work well on a boat, at the beach, and do double duty as daily wear, see UVG by Valerie Graham available at  Your skin is the largest organ in your body and it’s the only skin you’ve got!  Why not protect it?


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This work highlights the importance of combining sunscreen with other strategies to protect our skin, including wearing hats and loose fitting clothing.

Comment by Archer Bibb

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