Swimming on a hot summer’s day is an activity many of us enjoy on a regular basis with our families, especially in Florida. Unfortunately, there is a dark side to swimming outdoors, and it’s because of the effects of the sun. Ultraviolet (UV) rays, as almost everyone knows these days, are emitted from the sun and cause problems like sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer. Sunscreen is a great tool for keeping you and your family safe from harmful UV rays, but it’s not as simple as just putting a little on before you hop in the pool. There are certain steps you need to take in order to make sure your sunscreen is really working and keeping you safe. So how well does sunscreen perform in the water? Is it waterproof? Does it actually keep working while you’re swimming and soaking up the sun?
Is Sunscreen Waterproof?
Because people mostly use sunscreen when swimming or exercising outdoors, it’s important that the lotion doesn’t wash off immediately once in the water or after perspiring. However, it’s simply not possible to make a sunscreen that is truly waterproof. After years of sunscreen companies labeling their products as “waterproof” or “sweatproof”, the FDA stepped in during the spring of 2011 and ruled that the words are misleading and should no longer be used on sunscreen packaging, adding stipulations about what claims could be made about the products.
Most sunscreens are effective in the water to a certain point, which is good news for everyone who likes to jump in the pool. The current FDA regulations allow manufacturers to call their products water and sweat “resistant” and inform consumers of about how long the effects of the sunscreen should last in the water. This is generally about 40-80 minutes. With this in mind, the old “apply every two hours” seems moot. So what do you need to know about proper sunscreen use?
General Sunscreen Guidelines
Effective sunscreen use can be confusing, but there are several tips you should take note of to make sure you are keeping you and your family protected. Some general sunscreen guidelines include:
- Use a broad spectrum formula
- Consider a “physical” sunscreen with titanium dioxide or zinc dioxide
- Use at least 1 ounce when applying if protecting the entire body
- Reapply often—especially if you are swimming. Usually once every two hours is not enough
- Wear sunscreen even on cloudy days
- Choose an SPF of at least 30
- Take extra care if you have fair skin
- Take a break from the sun every once in a while
- Don’t forget small areas, like the ears
- Apply sunscreen about 15 minutes before sun exposure
Additional Measures of Protection
Aside from sunscreen, you should also take additional measures to protect yourself from the sun, no matter what outdoor activity you’re planning. Whenever possible, you should use a hat, sunglasses, and other protective clothing, such as when you’re lounging poolside. It’s best to avoid the hottest part of the day (10 AM-4PM) when possible, as that is when the UVA and UVB rays are strongest. Of course, some of these guidelines are difficult to follow when you’re planning to go swimming, but it is important to lower your risks in any way you can.
Keeping Up With Skincare
You don’t want to leave yourself susceptible to skin cancer, or any of the other ill effects of spending too much time in the sun. If you want to maintain beautiful skin, you’ll need to do more than just use sunscreen. You’ll need to make sure you’re keeping up with skincare and getting the checkups you need to ensure there are no signs of trouble. A skilled cosmetic dermatologist can help you with anything you need related to your skin, including checkups, skincare advice, and treatments for anti-aging.
Choosing a Dermatologist
Your dermatologist will be there for you for all your skincare needs, so it’s important to choose a provider you can really trust. A board certified dermatologist who has expertise in both medical and cosmetic dermatology is a good choice if you are simply looking to maintain or work toward beautiful, healthy skin.
Dr. Diane Walder is a renowned cosmetic dermatologist with expertise in skin cancer and other skin issues. She is often a consultant for major national publications like Allure, Vogue, and Glamour, and has a diverse and distinguished clientele at her Miami, FL office. If you would like to meet with Dr. Walder and have your skin assessed, call (305-866-2177) today to set up an appointment with Dr. Walder and her skilled colleagues.