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Sunscreen 101: What you need to know

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ATLANTA -

Summer will be here before you know it, and so will the scorching heat. But do you know which sunscreen is right for you this year?  The FOX Medical Team thinks now's great time for a little sunscreen 101, and we asked a skin care professional for some help.  

If you love the sun, but you also love you skin, dermatologist Dr. Rutledge Forney says go find a good sunscreen.   And remember-- the more, the better.  Dr. Forney says people are always surprised by how much sunscreen they should be using—about an ounce every two hours.

"That fills your hand," said Dr. Forney.  "Most people do a little squiggle. It really needs to be a pile that will fill the whole hand to cover their whole body."

Dr. Forney says you can find good sun protection at almost any price point.  Look for the words "broad spectrum," or a product with offers both ultraviolet A and B protection.

"When you see SPF, that relates to UVB protection," Dr. Forney explained.  "And that's the rays that if you will burn you.  So you think of UVB as the burning rays, but UVA are the aging rays. And we don't like those anymore. And both of them are the skin cancer rays."

And Forney says one of the best and cheapest full-spectrum products is zinc oxide, a physical sunblock.  Physical sunscreens provide a protective layer on top of the skin, but don't sink in and sting like some chemical sunscreens can.  That makes them a better choice for children.
      
And SPF is important, too. Dr. Forney says you'll hear that a 15 is the same as a 30, but the problem is in how you apply it.  For that reason, you should get the highest number you can because you need the effectiveness.

If you're in the water or you'll be sweating a lot, use a water-resistant sunscreen.  There's no such thing as waterproof, so re-apply often.  Your skin will thank you later.  

The type of product you use depends on your preference.  The American Academy of Dermatology says creams work best on the face and dry areas.  Sticks are good for use around the eyes.  Guys may prefer gel sunscreens, which work best on hairy areas.  

If you use a spray, try not to breathe in the product and make sure you apply it thoroughly.  Also, don't use sprays when you're smoking or near a flame.

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