Don’t Make These 5 Sunscreen Mistakes and Destroy Your Skin

Sunscreen is imperative to protect your skin during those warm summer months. But don’t make any of these five mistakes that could be harming your skin. Read on for some important sunscreen tips. Plus, check out page 6 to learn the best way to look for skin cancer.

Don’t apply just once

Woman hands putting sunscreen

Sunscreen | travnikovstudio/iStock/Getty Images

  • Don’t forget to choose a waterproof option if you’re swimming — and reapply.

You should always apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow the ingredients to fully bind to your skin. It’s easy to think that once is enough. But you need to reapply at least every two hours. If you’re swimming, make sure you choose a waterproof option, so the sunblock does not wash off in the water. Otherwise, you risk exposing your skin to harmful ultraviolet rays that can increase your skin cancer risk.

Next: Never disregard this information on the bottle. 

Don’t disregard the expiration date

Woman choosing sunscreen

Woman looking at sunscreen | RossHelen/iStock/Getty Images

  • Sunscreen loses strength after its expiration date.

Sunscreen is designed to last about three years. This way, you don’t need to spend money and stock up at the beginning of every summer. But today, most sunscreens come with expiration dates, and they shouldn’t be disregarded. The expiration date signals when the sunscreen is no longer at its strongest. When it expires, it’s important to discard it and purchase a new bottle to make sure you’re giving your skin the best protection possible.

Next: One option is not as good as the others. 

Don’t assume you can cover everything with a spray

Young woman applying sunblock cream on legs

Spray sunscreen | Fizkes/iStock/Getty Images

  • Apply bottled lotion to all exposed areas.

Spray bottles might be more convenient, but they are not more protective. When you’re on the beach with the wind blowing in all directions, it is difficult to accurately spray your entire body. Plus, because the sprays often go on clear, you can’t see the areas you’ve missed. While they might save time, they won’t save your skin. Always apply bottled lotion to make sure you’re getting every exposed area.

Next: If your sunscreen contains this, don’t use it. 

Don’t purchase a sunscreen that contains vitamin A

Woman wearing hat applying sunscreen

Sunscreen | LiudmylaSupynska/iStock/Getty Images

  • Studies have shown retinyl palmitate can speed skin tumor development.

It’s important to check the ingredients in your sunscreen. Specifically, it’s important to check that it does not contain retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A. Studies have shown this type of vitamin A can speed the development of skin tumors when it is applied in the presence of sunlight. According to the Environmental Working Group, about 12% of beach and sport sunscreens contain this vitamin A. Always check the label before buying to make sure your sunblock is vitamin A free.

Next: Just because you don’t look burnt doesn’t mean you’re OK. 

Don’t stop applying sunscreen just because you don’t burn

Sun hat

Woman on the beach | Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images

  • Always wear at least SPF 15.

As your skin gets darker throughout the summer, you might notice that you don’t burn easily. But that is not a reason to stop applying sunscreen. Even if your skin doesn’t show it, you are still allowing the skin to absorb harmful ultraviolet rays that can put you at risk for cancer. Always wear at least SPF 15 to give your body the sun protection it needs. If you’re going to be outside all day, you may want to use SPF 30. But anything above SPF 50 won’t make much of a difference.

Next: Here’s the one rule of thumb to use when checking for skin cancer. 

Use the ABCDE rule to check for skin cancer

diagnosis of skin diseases

Mole check | Artem Balatskyi/iStock/Getty Images

  • ABCDE: asymmetry, border, color, diameter, evolving

It’s important to stay in tune with your skin. To check for skin cancer, follow the ABCDE rule: asymmetry, border, color, diameter, evolving. If you notice a mole that looks mismatched, has a border, changes colors, is relatively large, or is evolving and growing, it’s important to see your doctor. This could be a sign of skin cancer. And it’s extremely important to lather sunscreen on to any moles to prevent them from becoming cancerous.

Next: Skin cancer is more common than you think. 

About 3.3 million Americans get diagnosed with skin cancer each year

Skin cancer

Woman at the doctor | Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

  • About 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer each day.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, about 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. But melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, accounts for only about 178,000 cases per year. About 1 in 5 adults will be diagnosed with some type of skin cancer at any point in their life. So it’s important to check your skin regularly, especially during the summer months, to detect any skin abnormalities as early as possible.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!