After a long Minnesota winter, the warmth of the sun feels so good you might wonder, what could be more natural than sunlight, right? The truth is, sunburns happen fast and are not only painful and dangerous but can also set you up for future health problems.
Our pale Minnesota skin, deprived of summer sun for many months, is actually very susceptible to burning, and to forming incipient skin cancers. The summer sun is strong and has the ability to burn skin in just minutes, even on a cloudy day. In addition, there are many common photo-sensitizing drugs (antihistamines, antibiotics, chemotherapy, cardiac drugs, etc.—even many fragrances) that can cause your skin to be more susceptible to damage from the sun’s rays.
Make sure you use a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher. You should use 1-2 ounces of sunscreen (30-60 ml) ounces for your full body and don’t rush when you put it on because you will miss spots and surely pay for it later. You should apply the sunscreen 1/2 hour before initial exposure and then every 30 minutes thereafter. Don’t listen to claims that your sunscreen is “waterproof” or will “last all day.” Always re-apply every 30 minutes.
Also, check the date on your sunscreen. The ingredients in sunscreen (like homosalate and octyl salicylate) block the penetration of UV rays by acting as filters to absorb and reflect high energy UV. But, over time these molecules break down and lose effectiveness, kind of like expired cold medicine or vitamins. Many sunscreens have an expiration date printed on the bottle. If not, The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that sunscreen is good for up to three years after you purchase it.