Avoid the Burn: What Sunscreen to Use, When to Reapply and Why

JACKSON, MISS–  That Mississippi sun will burn you quick if you’re not careful. A dermatologist tells News Mississippi what sunscreen to use and tips to avoid sunburn. 

Sunburn isn’t just painful and annoying, but it can lead to skin cancer. Sunscreen helps, but only when it is strong enough and applied correctly.

“There is no safe amount of sun,” says University of Mississippi Medical Center dermatologist Dr. Robert Brodell, “so look for a sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater.”

A high SPF isn’t the only thing to spare you the burn. Dr. Brodell says wearing a hat, protective clothing, staying in the shade and reapplying sunscreen after sweating and swimming are all great ways to protect your skin.

“Doing that will keep you from getting wrinkled, haggard skin, and cuts your chances of skin cancer down,” says Dr. Brodell.

So what sunscreen do you choose? Dr. Brodell says look for one that protects from both UVA and UVB. It’s up to you what type of sunscreen to use. “Gels, lotions, creams, sprays,” says Dr. Brodell, “find one you like. Because if you don’t like it, you’re probably not going to use it.”

But if you’re looking for a tan, sun-tanning oils used for laying out are bad news, says Dr. Brodell.

“By using oils, you’re inviting more sun into your skin,” says Brodell, “you’re basting yourself like a turkey.”

And if you’re still wanting to deepen your tan but avoid skin cancer and sunburn, Dr. Brodell says sunless tanning, such as an at-home lotion or spray or going to a spray tanning booth are both great options.

“In a perfect world, people wouldn’t want to darken their skin,” says Brodell, “but if you want color, I don’t care how you get it, so long as you avoid UVA and UVB radiation going into your skin.”