How Much Sunscreen Is Enough?

Screen the sun: It's a must (Photo: Shutterstock/Nicolesa)
Screen the sun: It's a must (Photo: Shutterstock/Nicolesa)

Back in the day, tanned skin was coveted, a status symbol. And for those who didn’t vacation bi-annually in Hawaii, greasing up with the body oil and holding a tanning reflector below your chin so the sun’s rays would bounce onto your face more intensely was the next best thing. Now, rubbing on a layer of sunscreen is part and parcel of getting dressed in the morning. And while handy-dandy apps can be download onto your Smart phone, programmed to remind us when to reapply the SPF, how much sunscreen is ever truly enough?

According to Dr. Paul Cohen, a Toronto-based dermatologist and founder of Rosedale Dermatology, the rule of thumb is: to apply a shot glass worth of sunscreen to your face every single day. Here are his sunscreen rules:

All men need to wear sunscreen, period

“Even if you’re just going to the office,” says Dr. Cohen. “Most people, especially men, don’t know that sun damage is cumulative over a lifetime; it adds up over time. So, that means anytime you are exposed to the sun, even when you aren’t thinking about it.” He claims that 80 per cent of sun damage is incidental, you know, like when running across the street to pick up a sandwich or driving to work. “UVA rays permeate glass,” says Dr. Cohen. “We know that UVA, which penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB, has long been known to play a major part in premature aging and wrinkling, and contributes to and may even initiate the development of skin cancers like Basel Cell. That’s a lot of sun damage over a lifetime that can be prevented.”

Protect the top of your head and your ears, neck, arms and hands

Spending the day outside on the golf course or simply mowing the lawn? You need a thick layer of sunscreen on your head, face, ears, neck, arms and hands. “And then reapply every two hours, especially since you’re outside being active and sweating,” says Dr. Cohen.  “Luckily, there are new formulas available, like a sunscreen stick or a spray that you can easily toss into your golf bag, making reapplication easy.”

Pay special attention to your shoulders and back

“The shoulders and back are the most common places for men to have melanoma, so I am all for extra sun protection,” says Dr. Cohen. “Even if you’re not at the beach and not taking your shirt off, the neck, forearms and back should also be carefully protected. 

Most clothes only offer an SPF of about seven.” 

Wear your sunscreen year-round

With 30 to 40 per cent of men admitting to never wearing sunscreen and with one in every five men getting skin cancer in their lifetime, wearing an SPF 15 and higher every single day of the year is a must. “We know that men don’t put on sunscreen as frequently as women do and that means they’re accumulating sunburns and suntans, which raises their risk of getting skin cancer,” says Dr. Cohen. “But the sun shines year-round, so sunscreen should be worn year-round. Even in the winter, when it’s snowing, the sun actually reflects off of snow, making a sunburn a high possibility.” recommends: Neutrogena CoolDry Sport Spray SPF 30 and SPF 60, 155 grams for $16.99 and Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Water-Light Daily Face Sunscreen SPF 60 Stick, 40 ml for $15.99 at grocery and drugstores across Canada.

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