Pick the Best Sunscreen

Protect yourself from the most common cancer

Dad applying sunscreen to son

Heading outdoors? Don’t forget to apply sunscreen, even if it’s cloudy outside or you’re only running errands. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Applying sunscreen correctly is a terrific way to help protect your skin against all types of skin cancer. Follow these tips.

1. Look for the right protection
Everyone needs to wear sunscreen, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Choose a sunscreen with these qualities:


  • Broad-spectrum protection from different types of ultraviolet (UV) rays

  • Water-resistant
  • Sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher


2. Choose a type that fits your needs
Sunscreens come in different packages: creams, gels, sticks and sprays. Pick a type that works for your personal needs, based on these recommendations from the American Academy of Dermatology:


  • Creams for your face or especially dry areas

  • Gels for hairy areas, such as the scalp or chest for men

  • Sticks for around your eyes to avoid running or stinging

  • Sprays for easy application to children, but avoid the face or mouth


3. Check the expiration date
Before you slather on whatever sunscreen you dug up in your bathroom or medicine cabinet, look at the expiration. If the date has passed, get a new bottle. If the color or texture of the sunscreen has changed or seems strange, play it safe and get a new bottle, too.

4. Apply and reapply as needed
One swipe or spritz may not provide adequate coverage. For the best protection:


  • Use one ounce of sunscreen, or about enough to fill a shot glass, to cover your body.

  • Apply to dry skin at least 15 minutes before going outdoors.

  • Don’t forget to apply to ears, hands and top of head if your hair is thinning.

  • Reapply every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating.