"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Why do I burn even when I'm covered in sunscreen?

With summer, I diligently apply sunscreen daily. But I'm still sunburnt! Why does this occur?

Oh You're right to be concerned, because getting five or more sunburns in your lifetime doubles your risk of developing melanoma, essentially the most dangerous type of skin cancer.

But sunscreen alone doesn't necessarily protect us from ultraviolet (UV) rays that may damage our skin, fueling DNA changes that promote aging and the potential development of cancer. Other aspects also make our skin more susceptible to burns. These include

  • Using skincare products that remove the highest layers of the skin, resembling retinoids or glycolic acid
  • Taking antibiotics or diuretics (“water pills”), which cause the skin to burn more quickly and with less sun exposure.
  • Applying older sunscreens, which have expired or may lose their potency over time if exposed to extreme temperatures.
  • Reading on a tablet or other screen while outdoors increases your UV exposure by reflecting the sun's glare onto your face and neck.

While any sunscreen blocks all UV rays, be sure that you utilize a broad-spectrum version labeled SPF 30 or higher. If you stay out of the sun completely within the afternoon, between 10 am and three pm, when UV rays are strongest, your probabilities of burning are also reduced.

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