Spring sun can be just as harmful to our skin as sweltering summers.
"The temperatures aren't quite as high yet so nobody thinks about sun protection as you would on a hot June or July day," said Board Certified Dermatologist Corinne Erickson.
Without proper use of sunscreen, the damage can even strike those of us with darker skin tones.
"Even though you aren't burning as easily, even though you may have a lower risk for skin cancer, it's going to help protect you from unwanted dark spots and wrinkles," said Dr. Erickson, with North Dallas Dermatology Associates.
She offered three essential tips when it comes to picking sunscreen:
- Make sure the bottle says "Water Resistant" for up to 40 or 80 minutes.
- Look for the words "Broad Spectrum" on the bottle.
"What that means is it's not only protecting you from UVB rays, which we know are the most common cause of sunburn, but it's also protecting you from UVA," said Dr. Erickson.
UVA is what contributes to skin cancer, discoloration and wrinkles.
- At minimum-- choose SPF 30!
"The reason to go higher is we skimp on it," said Dr. Erickson. "But when you thin it out, you're knocking down that SPF by 50 percent."
As for chemicals, Dr. Erickson recommends reading the ingredients and sticking to sunscreens that contain Zinc and Titanium.
You want to avoid anything that says Oxybenzone. That's the chemical washed off from your skin into our oceans that scientists have found is killing coral reefs.
"It depletes the reefs' nutrients and it ends up bleaching out the reefs and then they die," explained Dr. Erickson.
If you use a spray, be sure to spray the sunscreen into your hand first and then apply it.
As for how much sunscreen you should use -- Dr. Erickson said for adults, use a shot glass full (that's 1.5 ounces or 45mL) for every two hours that you're in the sun.
Sure, you may have to reapply often -- but Dr. Erickson said if you have sunscreen leftover from a beach vacation last summer, you probably didn't use enough.
It may not be cheap, but using the right sunscreen is worth the investment.