Sunscreen is always a good idea. We all know the importance of wearing sunscreen when we spend time outside, but did you know that you should wear sun protection daily? Yes, even if you stay inside. Even if you only go outside for a few minutes. Even during winter. And, yes, even on cloudy days. Without sun protection, your skin could sustain unnecessary damage from sun exposure. Wearing sunscreen has many benefits, most of all, it can prevent premature aging, reduce the risk of hyperpigmentation, and help prevent skin cancers.

Each time you venture outdoors you expose your skin to damaging UV rays and your risk of developing skin cancer increases with unprotected skin exposure.

Clothing does provide some protection and many companies now manufacture “sun protection” cross the barrier provided by clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (or UPF). The UPF indicates the fraction of UV rays that can cross the protective barrier provided by the fabric. For example, a UPF of 60 allows 1/60th of the sun’s rays to penetrate the fabric. However, there are still certain areas of the skin that remain fully exposed.

As we know, the face and hands are the most exposed area of the body. It is not only melanoma we are concerned with, but also the premature aging that UV rays cause, such as fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation, which contribute to making us appear older. According to a report from the Melanoma Network of Canada, melanoma is one of the most common types of cancer found in young adults aged 15 to 29 and 30 to 49. These numbers confirm the need to apply daily sun protection.

Not convinced? Here are a few facts about melanoma:

  • It takes only one blistering sunburn to double a person’s chances of developing melanoma.
  • 90% of melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays.
  • You are at a higher risk of developing melanoma if you have fair skin, red/blonde hair, or a family history of melanoma, or if your skin is excessively exposed to UV rays from the sun or tanning beds.
  • Early exposure to tanning beds or even occasional use can increase a person’s chances of developing melanoma by 75%.
  • The survival rate for melanoma is high if detected early and, unlike many cancers, melanoma is clearly visible on the skin.

So now what? Here is your SPF checklist:



1. Start by choosing the right SPF:

  • Go for broad-spectrum protection: The SPF index indicates the percentage of UVB rays (burning rays) that are blocked. Unless the sunscreen’s packaging specifically states that it offers broad spectrum UVA (rays that cause aging) and UVB protection, the SPF index refers only to the percentage of UVB rays that are blocked.


  • Choose the right SPF value: The SPF index indicates the percentage of the sun’s rays that are filtered. You would think that the protection would increase exponentially with a higher SPF value, but this is not the case. The protection almost plateaus with a minimal increase for an SPF of more than 15 (blocks 95% of UV rays). However, most people prefer using an SPF of at least 30 (blocks 97% of UV rays) or higher.



  • Opt for physical (mineral) over chemical: Physical sun protection, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, is a physical sunblock, meaning that it remains on the skin and deflects the sun’s rays. it may also be less irritating to the skin than a chemical sunscreen that is absorbed into the skin, which, subsequently, also absorbs the UV rays. Additionally, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide protect from both UVA and UVB rays.


2. Since sunscreen needs to be reapplied, using makeup with an SPF is not sufficient protection against UV rays during extended exposure to the sun.

3. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, when you are outdoors.

4. If you are wearing sun protection for the beach, look for one that indicates it is water resistant.

5. Many beaches now require sunscreen to indicate that it is reef friendly, to ensure that it is not damaging to the aquatic environment.