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If you spend most of your day indoors, SPF 15 should provide adequate protection, but if you spend more time outdoors during the hottest part of the day, you should use a sunscreen with a higher SPF and perhaps one that is also water and sweat-resistant, according to Hackensack Meridian Health, a health care network in New Jersey.
SPF stands for "sun protection factor," and the number indicates how long it takes the sun's UVB rays to redden your skin while wearing the sunscreen, compared with the amount of time without sunscreen.
That means if you use an SPF 30 product as directed, it would take you 30 times longer to burn than if you used no sunscreen.
A common problem with sunscreen is that people don't apply enough of it. You should completely cover your body, including your ears, scalp, feet and neck, and need to apply lots of sunscreen even on cloudy days, because the sun's UV rays can penetrate clouds, Hackensack Meridian Health explained in a news release.
After you apply the sunscreen, you still need to use other types of protection, such as wide-brimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses.
It's also important to check the sunscreen's expiration date. Most sunscreens are designed to maintain their original level of protection for up to three years. If you have sunscreen that's expired or more than three years old, throw it out.
Sunscreens that have been exposed to high temperatures or have obvious changes in color or consistency should also be thrown away, the group said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more on sunscreens.
SOURCE: Hackensack Meridian Health, news release, June 2021
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