Sunscreen is an important part of the summer routine. It protects from painful sun burn and the potential for skin cancer. However, there seems to be a lot of conflicting information on when and how to use it. Here are five top sunscreen myths, busted.

1. The SPF stands for how long it lasts. Not exactly. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and it’s actually the measurement of how much sun is needed to burn protected versus unprotected skin. It is not a measurement of how long that particular sunscreen will last before you start getting burned. Most sunscreens, regardless of SPF, will protect you for a maximum of two hours, so reapply often.

Practice-Sun-Safety-Early-Two

2. Expiration dates are just a suggestion. Maybe on some products, but not on sunscreen. The ingredients that offer the sun protection don’t last forever and deteriorate after time – usually around a year. If you only use a small amount of sunscreen, don’t buy that huge bargain bottle – just get a small tube and replace as needed.

3. If it’s cloudy, we don’t need sunscreen. Contrary to popular belief, clouds do not block UV rays. If you’re going to be spending a significant time outside on a cloudy day, it’s important to still put sunscreen on like you would do on a sunny day.

4. Waterproof sunscreen lasts longer than regular sunscreen. Actually, there is no such thing as “waterproof” sunscreen. Naturally, anything on the skin will wash away after spending time in the water. You can buy water-resistant sunscreen, but it actually needs to be reapplied more often when swimming. At least every hour to be well-protected.

5. A little goes a long way. Not so true with sunscreen. You want to coat the skin with it, more than you would do with just a body lotion. Everyone’s body size is different, so instead of giving a specific amount, it’s important to just make sure you cover every exposed bit of skin with it, and rub rub rub until there’s no more white.

When you’re using sunscreen, as with any product, it’s important to read the manufacturers directions carefully! Each product is different. When you practice sun safety, Summer is a lot more fun!

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When I'm not writing, I'm cleaning up after my three very messy boys, ages 8, 5, and 2, and my 1 year old girl. If I had to describe myself in just one sentence: Slightly crunchy, a little crazy and always exhausted.

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