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The do’s and don’ts of sunscreen

On Your Side's Susan Campbell talks ways to keep yourself safe from sun damage this summer, in light of the heat!
Published: Jun. 10, 2022 at 12:40 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - There’s a good chance you’re not using sunscreen correctly, and it could cause some serious skin damage. In fact, about 1 in 5 Americans will end up with skin cancer at some point in their lives, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

At Love Skin Holistic Med Spa in Tempe, Diana Rieger uses a 3D imaging tool to evaluate pores, wrinkles, oil, bacteria, and the damaging effects of the sun. “It can help be preventative for skin cancer,” Rieger said, noting that people are often surprised at their results. “A lot of people think that SPF 15 in their makeup is going to do the job, and it is absolutely kind of a joke here in Arizona. Just driving down the street every day to and from work, you can get a lot of sun damage.”

There’s another common mistake people make with sunscreen. “The biggest one that I actually see is people getting spray-on sunscreen, and they’re spraying and there’s a huge cloud everywhere but them,” Rieger said. “And then I’ll see them a couple of hours later, and they’ll be lobster red on one side and sort of ok on the other side.”

This season, Consumer Reports tested several sunscreens by applying the products to the back. Test subjects soaked in a tub for 40 or 80 minutes, depending on the sunscreen’s water-resistance claim, and then the area was exposed to simulated sunlight. “We test sunscreens to see how well they protect against two types of UV rays, UVA, which causes aging and skin cancer, and UVB, which causes sunburn,” said Trisha Calvo, the Consumer Reports health editor. One of the top performers was the Equate Ultra Lotion SPF 50.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, any sunscreen you choose should be broad-spectrum, meaning that it protects from UVA and UVB rays. It should be SPF 30 or higher, and it should be water-resistant. About one ounce of sunscreen is the necessary amount to cover exposed parts of the body, dermatologists say. They also recommend staying in the shade and wearing sun-protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses.