You've Probably Used Sunscreen Wrong For Every Summer Of Your Life So Far

by Talia Koren
Gabrielle Lutze

Because I'm a redhead, I burn faster than overcooked popcorn. This weekend, you know I'll be basically bathing in sunscreen before I hit the beach.

Seriously, I have to slather sunscreen on and cross my fingers in the hopes no more freckles pop up. By mid-summer, my shoulders are like a game of connect the dots.

But, I'm also pretty concerned about getting skin cancer. Oh, and wrinkles. I definitely don't want those.

It's hard to enjoy outdoor summer activities and parties, especially Fourth of July barbecues and pool parties, when you also have to worry about skin cancer. And stopping every 45 minutes during a beach volleyball tourney is kind of a drag, too.

But here's the truth about sunscreen: Even if you're layering it on every inch of exposed skin, it might not be enough to do the trick. Read the labels, people.

Sorry (not sorry) to sound like everyone's grandmother, but does the sunscreen you're using also protect against both types of harmful ultraviolet rays? Good sunscreen should have your back when it comes to both UVA and UVB rays. Exposing your skin to these types of rays are proven to cause cancer and wrinkles.

And look, higher SPF does not mean better protection. Don't waste time looking for SPF 100. SPF 30 is enough. You probably won't be surprised that bottles labeled SPF 60 and above were tested, and they didn't really hold up.

Companies lie on labels. That's why the FDA made sunscreen brands trade "waterproof" for "water-resistant" on labels because sunscreen isn't actually waterproof.

Another common mistake people make is not putting on enough. The recommended amount is actually 2 tablespoons on all exposed skin, and most people use less than half of that. Applying once is never enough, either.

Aside from applying at least 15 minutes before stepping outside and exposing your precious skin to the sun, ideally, you should be reapplying every two hours and more if you're sweating or in water.

The bottom line is, if you hate putting on sunscreen or think you're fine because your skin is darker naturally, just stay in the shade.

Avoid walking around in your bathing suit all day if you can. And if you're already covering yourself in sunscreen, don't forget about your ears and neck.

We might think it's weird, but those people who walk around with umbrellas in the summer are onto something.

Having a tan now is nice, but when you're older, wrinkles aren't nearly as nice. Just think about how you want to look as good as possible at 50.

This weekend, between shoving hotdogs in your mouth and lying out on the beach or by the pool, make sure to keep a bottle of SPF 30 sunscreen nearby.

OK, that's about all the grandma advice I have in me. I'm going to hit up the nearest drugstore for a sunbrella and a bottle of SPF 30 for each day of this weekend.

Citations: Sunscreen doesn't work as well as it says: What to do? (AP)