ATLANTA - For many of us, summer means sun. But, when it comes protecting our skin, CentreSpring MD's Dr. Taz Bhatia says we have a lot of misconceptions. Some common assumptions?
"You can't get a sunburn if you're in the water," says Dr. Bhatia. "Or, you can't get a sunburn if you're darker complexed. Unfortunately, you can still get a sunburn in both those circumstances."
So, how do you pick the best sun protection?
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30, which will block 97 percent of the sun's UVB rays.
On its website, the Academy recommends creams for dry skin and faces, gels for hairy areas, and sticks for around the eyes.
There are two main types of sunscreen.
A chemical sunscreen will absorb and dissipate ultraviolet rays. Ingredients include oxybenzone, avobenzone and octisalate.
A physical (or mineral) sunscreen acts like a shield, blocking and reflecting damaging rays away from the skin.
For children, people with sensitive skin, and those who prefer a more natural product, Dr. Taz recommends a mineral-based sunblock, with ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
"One of the best ingredients is zinc oxide," she says. "People can make their own by getting the zinc oxide powder and then adding coconut oil to it, and then making it into a paste. Or, you can just buy zinc oxide directly off the shelf."
Apply about an ounce of sunscreen, which is enough to fill a shot glass. Reapply every 2 hours, more often if you're in the water or sweating.
Remember, Bhatia says, no sunscreen will block 100% of the sun's rays.
So, she recommends also sun-protective clothing.
"Another good rule to protect your face is to wear a big wide-brimmed hat. And use sunglasses to protect your eyes as well."
Remember you can get burned even on a cloudy day.
So, lather up, and enjoy your summer.