Sunscreen mistakes you may be making

Sunscreen mistakes you may be making

It’s a hot, sunny day. Like, 90 degrees hot. You’re sitting at home with the blinds drawn. You’ve spent a fair amount of time outside this summer so you may decide to head out without sunscreen. But doing so would be a mistake.

When it comes to sunscreen, experts say the number one thing people do wrong is not wearing any at all.

However, it’s easy to avoid sunscreen mistakes. Experts share the following steps you can take to ensure that sunscreen is applied, used and stored correctly:

  • If you’re grabbing a sunscreen from a bathroom cabinet, check the date on the bottle. Sunscreen does expire. “Store the sunscreen in a cool place. When bringing the sunscreen outside, be sure to put it in the shade,” says Dr. Catherine Dudley, a dermatologist at Advocate Medical Group in Aurora and Plainfield, Ill.
  • When applying sunscreen, it’s easy to lather up the parts of the body you can see, like the arms, stomach and legs, but there are some parts of the body that may get overlooked. “Remember to put sunscreen on the tops of the ears and the back of the neck. It’s also important to use lip sunscreen,” Dr. Dudley says.
  • The best SPF to use is SPF 30 or higher. Dr. Dudley says SPF 15 is a high enough number to provide adequate protection, but most people do not apply it a thick enough layer for it to work. Any SPF below 15 provides more limited protection.
  • Use a different form of sunscreen to target sweaty areas. If you find that sunscreen drips from your forehead into your eyes when sweating, Dr. Dudley suggests using a lip sunscreen stick on the forehead instead of the cream sunscreen.
  • Sunscreen sprays, creams and gels are equally effective. You can apply any of those to your hands and then spread the sunscreen around on your skin, Dr. Dudley says. She says powder sunscreen does work, but it takes a thick layer to do the job. Therefore, it is better used as a touch up if you are outside for a long time.

“Sunscreen is important to prevent many skin cancers and premature aging of the skin,” Dr. Dudley says.

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  1. Everyone told me since I work in the yard alot to get a high number sunscreen so I did number 100 I found . I put it on and I ture red like a lobster. I look after I was burned to the ingredients and the first was alcohol denat was the inactive ingredients no wonder why I burned . What should we look for?

    • A great resource for information about quality sunscreens is
      or they have a product app called EWG Healthy Living. SPF values are a poor measure of the effectiveness of the sunscreen as it also depends on product quality. You want to avoid products that contain oxybenzone. You can also find high quality/healthy sunscreen products on Wellevate. Go to

  2. shouldn’t sunscreen be applied to all exposed areas of skin regardless the temperature?

  3. I second EWG’s site.
    It helps select a sunscreen that will provide coverage and filter to elevate the sunscreens that are healthier and safer for use based on the chemical content.

  4. Can I be ok (without skin stains) by using sunscreen 50spf or 70spf 1 day or 4 days after getting legs and under arm laser removal when going to the beach or walking on a tropical city with very hot weather? I will try to be for the majority of the time under a tent or shade. Thank you very much!

  5. My son used to get burned easily with sunscreen until we switched to a product with zinc.. Now he doesn’t burn.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.