Excuse us as we get a little service-y here. Dr. Quenby Erickson, a dermatologist at Saint Louis University, has made a shocking discovery: A lot of people are putting their sunscreen on wrong!
"I've seen mothers at the park spraying sun block on babies from too far away to do enough good," Erickson says. "Others dab on too little to protect themselves adequately from the sun's rays. If you've gone to the admirable effort of buying and applying sunscreen, make sure it's working while you wear it."
If it ever gets cool enough that you would actually entertain the idea of spending more than 30 seconds outside, here are some helpful hints:
Too Little: Lather it on! Adults need the equivalent of a shot glass full of sunscreen to cover their whole body. And be sure to cover all skin that's exposed to the sun. Don't forget about your ears, back of your neck, tops of your feet, and, if you're balding, the top of your head.
Too Late: Timing is important. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before heading outdoors, and reapply every two hours and after swimming.
Too Far Away: If you're spraying a child at arm's length, you're probably not giving him or her complete protection from the sun's rays. Aim the spray bottle two to three inches away from the body. It's also important to rub spray sunscreen into the skin for full coverage.
Too Old: Sunscreen has an expiration date, and it can be less effective if it's past its prime. If you're using the recommended amount of sun block, it's less likely to sit on the shelf long enough to expire. An adult should get around four uses per bottle.