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How to Pick the Best Sunscreen to Protect Skin

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Why don't we do what we're told when it comes to our health? Daily application of sunscreen is probably one of the most brushed off pieces of health advice out there, despite how much evidence supports it. I know I'm guilty of running to the pool or beach with friends to lay for hours insisting I had "no time" to put any on.

Sunscreen is essential for blocking out ultraviolet rays that can lead to skin cancer. Skin cancer is easily preventable with sunscreen and highly curable if caught early. So although you -- and I -- should've been applying sunscreen all year round (those rays don't go away when the pool closes), most of us are just now picking up a fresh bottle for our beach bag, so we might as well do it right.

Five Rules for Sun Protection
If you're looking to better protect your skin this summer, there are some things to look out for when shopping. Keep these guidelines in mind to find the best product and get the most out of it:

1. Pick a cream or lotion.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends avoiding powders or sprays because they can miss important areas of the body and can also be inhaled unintentionally. Choose a cream or lotion for more accurate application. It may take longer, but your skin will be better protected.

2. Check the SPF.
The most important number on the bottle is the SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, which should be 15 or higher (higher being preferable), according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

3. Go broad.
You don't want to protect yourself from just UVA or just UVB rays. Instead, look for a product that says "broad spectrum" on the bottle or tube to make sure you're completely shielded.

4. Grab a shot glass.
This isn't a joke. The American Academy of Dermatology (ADD) recommends a shot-glass amount of sunscreen to cover your entire body as a basic guideline, going up from there. The AAD estimates most individuals apply only 25 to 50 percent of the recommended amount, so measure out 1 fl oz and use it all up.

5. Don't miss anything.
Skin cancer doesn't just develop on the tops of your arms or legs. Be sure to cover your feet, ears, lips and eyelids with sunscreen. You can find balms that are useful for the face and even cosmetics with sun protection in them. Leave no inch of skin unprotected.

6. Water isn't your friend.
Just like you wash off makeup or other body lotion, water will knock out your sunscreen. Look for a product labeled "water resistant," which will you buy you some added time. Follow application instructions, waiting to get wet if needed. However, no matter how water resistant a product may be, water will still wash some of it away, as will sweat. Make sure to reapply your sunscreen often if you're swimming, water skiing or whatever the activity may be.

7. Reapply, reapply, reapply.
One application of sunscreen doesn't mean all-day protection, even if the bottle may say so. As previously mentioned, water and sweat can wash away your sun screen, but even if you're dry, its effectiveness still fades. Reapply your favorite sunscreen every two hours at least while you're exposed to the sun.

8. Mind the date
Before you slather on that sunscreen from last year, check to make sure the product hasn't expired. Most sunscreens, in accordance with FDA guidelines, have a shelf life of three years, comparable to most cosmetics and health and beauty items. If it's too old, you won't be getting the promised SPF protection, so toss it out.

The last recommendation is not related to sunscreen but nonetheless important: Know when you're done. While being in the sun can be fun, everyone pretty much knows the moment they've overdone it. Avoid sunburn or worse (heat stroke) by heading into the shade regularly and being cautious between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun's strength is at its highest. Wear protective clothing when you're not outside to swim or be in a bathing suit.

If you do get burned, treat it with a little aloe vera gel. Keep it in the fridge and reapply as needed to help ease the burn and encourage healing.

Be serious about your sun protection to stay healthy this summer and beyond. Healthy skin is the sexiest, after all, so layer it on or rock your pale this summer and you'll be in good shape. Be sure to shop eVitamins for a range of natural sun protection products!

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