As much as many of us know how dangerous lying in the sun all day can be, as soon as summertime hits, most of us can't resist heading outside to start working on our tan. Of course, using a broad spectrum SPF sunscreen is vital when it comes to protecting our skin, but this new sunbathing calculator is a free and simple tool that can apparently help you stay safe while enjoying the heat.
The tool was created by Dr. Małgorzata Koperska of Omni Calculator to help sunbathers figure out how long they can stay in the sun without risking sunburn. "Sunburns hurt, the peeling skin looks far from sexy, but more importantly, every time you get a sunburn, the risk of getting skin cancer in the future rises," Dr. Koperska shared in a statement with Teen Vogue. "Even if you're a vitamin D junkie, enjoy the sun safely!"
Thankfully, the calculator (which you can try here) is free and super easy to use, and it should only take about 30 seconds to fill out. First off, there are two modes: simple and advanced. If you want to start off using the simple mode, all you'll need to do is record the sun intensity, the altitude of wherever you are, if you're in water or snow, your skin type (meaning how fair or tan you are naturally), and the strength of the SPF you're using. Then, voilà! The calculator gives you a safe amount of time you can spend in the sun.
For the advanced mode, you'll need to find out the UV index of your current location, in addition to everything else listed above. "It's fantastic that we're able to find out how UV rays influence our skin so directly," Dr. Koperska told Bustle. "The equation I used to calculate the maximum safe time spent in the sun sounds a bit complicated. It's the skin phototype coefficient times the cream's SPF, divided by the current UV index, altitude coefficient, and reflecting ground coefficient."
No matter how much you're dying to get that golden summer glow, dermatologists all agree that it's not worth the risk of serious skin damage, or worse — skin cancer. While there's been a debate on whether or not higher SPF sunscreens are more effective, Dr. Dendy Engelman, a dermatologic surgeon at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, asserts that these products are essential. "When I talk to my patients about whether we need an SPF 50 or 100, the reality is we never apply the amount in practicality that they do when they’re testing it in the studies," she previously told Elite Daily. "Rule of thumb, take whatever is on the bottle and divide it by two and that is about what you’re getting. So in that line of thinking, the higher, the better — go higher to convey more protection. The newest studies substantiate that."
The truth is that you won't tan as much with sunblock on. But luckily, there are sunscreens that will still allow you to get darker, while providing some protection. But keep in mind that these products tend to be lower on the SPF scale, so it's important to reapply the formula frequently.
With this new calculator tool, even if you use a low SPF sunscreen, you'll know exactly when to get out of the sun.