1.  Sunscreen and sunblock

Use broad-spectrum sunscreen/sunblock with at least an SPF 30.

Sunscreens (chemical blockers) need to be applied 30 min prior to UV exposure as it needs time to be absorbed into the skin. Reapply every 2 hours.

Sunblocks (physical blockers) can be applied just prior to sun exposure. Reapply every 2 hours especially if sweating or swimming.

2.  Avoid peak sun hours (10 am to 4 pm)

UV radiation is strongest between 10 am – 4pm due to direct angle of UV rays from the sun during those hours. Cool temperatures and clouds do not decrease UV levels as they do not alter the angle of UV radiation. Try to plan outdoor activities to avoid being outdoors when UV radiation is most intense.

3.  NO indoor tanning beds

Tanning bed use even ONCE per month increases the risk of skin cancer by 50%. The risk is even higher for persons who begin tanning in their late teens to early 20s.

Safe alternatives to tanning beds include self-tanning (sunless) lotions or spray-on tans. Both contain a sugar known as dihydroxyacetone (DHA) which stains dead skin cells on the stratum corneum (upper most layer of the skin). Even though these products create a bronzing effect with an SPF 4. They DO NOT protect from UV radiation like sunscreens or sunblocks.

4.  Self-skin examination at home

Check moles on a regular basis (e.g. every 1-2 months) especially if there is a family history of skin cancer.

Stand naked in front of a mirror and use a handheld mirror to examine your skin from head to toe. Look for the ABCDE criteria.

See a physician if you notice any suspicious moles.

5.  NO sunburns

Studies have shown that FIVE or more sunburns will DOUBLE a person’s risk of skin cancer.

6.  Lip products with sunscreen/sunblock

Lower lips are at much higher risk of sun damage due to the angle of UV radiation from the sun.

Use a lip product with an SPF 30+ to protect the lips from sun damage.

Reapply frequently especially after eating or drinking. 

7.  Hats

Tightly woven hats can lower UV exposure by more than 70% on the head/neck. Use a hat with a 4-inch+ brim.

Avoid loosely woven hats and straw hats.

8.  Sunglasses

UV radiation also damages the eyes and can lead to sunburns on the cornea (outer layer of the eye), cataracts and corneal ulcers.

Wraparound sunglasses protect both the cornea and skin around the eyes. Sunglasses marked ANSI (American National Standards Institute) block out 99% UV radiation.

9.  Sunprotective clothing

All clothing is not made equal when it comes to protecting a person from the sun. A regular white T-shirt is only equivalent to an SPF 4.

Best options are tightly woven fabrics (silk, polyester) or dark colors.

Sun-protective clothing is now widely available with UPF ratings.

10.  Reflected light

UV light can reflect off water, snow/ice, concrete or sand.

Therefore, sunscreen/sunblock and other sunprotective measures should always be used at all times of the year.