Know Your SPFs

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Before you try for a sun kissed look, consider protecting your body's largest organ–your skin. Sun screen can prevent painful sun burns, long-term skin damage, and even life threatening consequences like skin cancer.

Dr. Suzette Sanchez, DO is a dermatologist in Holland. She says lather on the sun block and make sure you get a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) that counts.

Sanchez recommends a sun screen with an SPF between 15-30. "If you go higher, it does not change protection that much," she says. Bullfrog or Neutragena are the brands of sunscreen Sanchez wears and recommends before spending any time in the sun, any day of the week.

"Apply it in (your) morning routine, because even going to and from our car accumulates sun exposure over a lifetime," she says.

Sun screen should be applied a half hour to an hour before heading out into the sun, and then every one and a half to two hours after that.

"(I use) gel if I am going to be playing any sports. It won't run or sting in eyes. Also, (choose a sun screen that) has both UVA and UVB protection. You need both," Sanchez says.

For children and adults with fairer skin, more may be needed.

"A red-head will burn faster than a person of darker coloring," she says.

If you do get burned, apply aloe or a Hydrocortisone cream like Cortaid, Sanchez says. Seek medical attention if the burn starts to blister or form pus, or if you are feeling fatigue or running a fever.

Did you know sun screen expires? Replace your bottle each year or every season.

Written by: Erika Fifelski is the West Michigan Woman magazine editorial coordinator. She was born and raised in West Michigan, and after a brief stint on the sunrise side, she's home and loving it. Erika enjoys cooking, vacuuming, gardening, and discovering new ways to live sustainably and support local businesses. Photo: Vassiliki Koutsothanasi

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