10 Smart Ways to Lower Your Skin Cancer Risk
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- 1. Stop trying to get a "healthy" tan from the sun.
- 2. Know when to stay out of the sun completely.
- 3. Learn the truth about UVA and UVB rays.
- 4. Know the limits of your SPF.
- 5. Try the new-and-improved sun-protection ingredients.
- 6. Remember when to apply -- and reapply -- sunscreen.
- 7. Figure out how much sunscreen you need.
- 8. Wear a hat.
- 9. Wear clothes with built-in protection.
- 10. Use Retin-A to repair sun damage.
- Sun-Proof Your Body with Dietary Supplements
4. Know the limits of your SPF.
4. Know the limits of your SPF. Okay, we all get that a lotion with a sun protection factor of 30 will give you more protection than a 15 -- but have you ever wondered what SPF really means? You're not the only one. Brian Adams, MD, director of the Sports Dermatology Clinic at the University of Cincinnati, explains: "A lotion with an SPF of 10 lets you stay in the sun 10 times longer than you normally would without burning." By the same token, SPF 15 lets you stay out 15 times longer, and so on. In theory, that would mean if you can be in the sun for 10 minutes without burning when you've got nothing on your skin, a cream with an SPF of 30 would allow you to stay out for a whopping 300 minutes without turning into a lobster.
But wait a second: Plenty of people have used SPF 30 and burned before spending anywhere near 300 minutes in the sun (or at least, we have). What gives? The problem's not the product so much as the application of it, according to Dr. Phillips, who says you need to carefully cover all exposed areas and reapply regularly. (For the how-to, see No. 6.)
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