Cancer Care 5 Common Sunscreen and Sun Protection Mistakes By UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, July 29, 2015 It’s well known and frequently talked about that protecting yourself from the sun is crucial in preventing skin cancer and melanoma. Wearing sunscreen, protective clothing, and seeking shade are all things we know to do. However, we all make mistakes, including when we’re out and about in the summer months. To help keep your skin protected, we’ve listed five commonly made mistakes in the sun, especially when it comes to sunscreen. 1. Visiting a Tanning Salon to Prevent Burning If you build a base tan, your skin will be used to the UV rays and you won’t burn, right? This is a common misconception. Indoor tanning is a known cause of skin cancers. By tanning before you plan to spend a lot of time outside, you’re exposing yourself just as much, if not more, than what you would have originally. Plus, when tanning, you don’t use SPF. 2. Applying Sunscreen When You’re Already Exposed It’s usual you get to the beach or pool, set up your things, and then apply your sunscreen. Unfortunately, it’s not the right order you should go about the day. Sunscreen should be applied generously about 30 minutes before you step out into the sun. After a half hour, the UV blockers will have bonded to your skin, offering the best protection. 3. Not Reapplying Sun Screen Frequently Sure, the sunscreen you’re using says its water and sweat proof, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to reapply! After your initial sunscreen application, you should reapply every two hours, and especially right after you’ve been exercising or swimming. 4. Not Using Sunscreen With Enough SPF You should wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30. A tan may seem nice, and the oils with less than 30 SPF will get you there, but avoiding melanoma and other skin cancers is more important to your health. 5. Missing Important Areas On the Body So now that you’ve applied a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 a half an hour before going outside, and you’ve continued to reapply every two hours, you should be safe, right? Not necessarily! Are you sure you applied to ALL of your exposed skin? Commonly missed areas include: Your ears The side of your face The tops of your feet The front and back of your neck Your scalp (especially on bald spots, hair parts, or if you have a buzz cut) Don’t forget to protect your lips with a lip balm that contains SPF. Are you guilty of any of these? Now you can be well-equipped to go outside and face the sun with confidence.!