I’m a GP, here are the 5 sunscreen mistakes you make and how to fix them

AS LONG AS you put sunscreen on when you lay back on the beach, you’re protected for the day – right?

Wrong… an expert has explained some of the most common mistakes we make when it comes to protecting our skin in the summer.

Sunscreen must be applied at least 30 minutes before going outside - not just when entering the pool


Sunscreen must be applied at least 30 minutes before going outside – not just when entering the poolCredit: Alamy

This includes not putting on sunscreen before leaving the house and using last year’s lotion.

At best, these could leave you or your child with a sunburn.

In the worst case, UV rays can cause skin cancer.

dr Stephanie Ooi, a general practitioner at MyHealthcare Clinic in London, says many people don’t know what precautions should be taken to protect themselves from sun damage and skin cancer.


You’re wearing sunscreen, but are you wearing enough?

dr Ooi said: “Most of us don’t wear enough sunscreen.

“To properly protect your face, you should slather on two fingers of sunscreen, and for your body, it’s a whole shot glass.

“If using a spray bottle or roll-on, apply multiple passes or squirts to each area to ensure adequate protection.

“Clothes offer some protection, but don’t forget to get under the edges of clothing to ensure you have good full-body coverage.”

dr Ooi said to children: “There are no particular rules, but you should apply sunscreen generously – more is more!”.

However, note that children under the age of six months should be kept completely out of the sun.


dr Ooi always recommends using SPF 50, rain or shine.

She said: “Choose the highest sun protection factor possible to protect yourself in the best possible way.

“Some people choose a lower SPF because they believe it increases their body’s vitamin D levels, but studies have shown that vitamin D levels are unaffected by a higher SPF sunscreen.”

The body makes vitamin D, which helps keep bones and muscles healthy, from exposure to sunlight on the skin when it is outdoors.

“If you’re worried, you can always take a daily vitamin D supplement. The NHS recommends a daily intake of 10mcg (or 400 units) during the winter months.”

Don’t hesitate

You’ve reached the beach, now it’s time to put on the sunscreen.

But that’s the wrong approach, says Dr. Ooi.

She said: “Sunscreen needs to be put on at least 30 minutes before going outside. In addition, most need to be reapplied every two hours.

“If you swim or sweat, you need to reapply protection even more often.”


Many of us are guilty of dipping into last year’s sunscreen stash.

But did you know it can expire, and most often within a year?

And when it does, the consequences can be serious as you will no longer have protection.

Researchers at King Edward VII’s Hospital in London have warned that millions of people are actually using outdated lotions.

dr Ooi said: “You can check this by looking at the back of the bottle – there’s a glass symbol with a number on it. This equates to the number of months it can be open before being discarded.”


Sunscreen is a filter, not a blocker, so your skin can still be damaged, warned Dr. Ooi.

“The best protection is to stay completely out of the sun,” explained Dr. Ooi, “especially during the hours when the sun is at its strongest, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“It’s not always possible to stay out of the sun, so be sure to seek shade, wear a wide-brimmed hat and cover up in loose, breathable clothing. Remember, there is no such thing as a healthy tan.”

A tan is in fact what your skin does to protect your cells from harmful rays by forming pigment as a block.

https://www.the-sun.com/health/5544445/sunscreen-mistakes-how-fix-them/ I’m a GP, here are the 5 sunscreen mistakes you make and how to fix them

Sarah Y. Kim

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