Written by Alexis Dobranowski, Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.
The sun. It's a beautiful thing, and when it's shining, the streets, parks and beaches get really busy. The city comes alive!
But it's not all good. The sun can burn! And, a history of sunburns increases the risk of skin cancer, including melanomas. Sun exposure can also cause wrinkles, dry skin and age spots.
Dr. Mary McKenzie, dermatologist in Sunnybrook's Melanoma Clinic, recommends using a sunscreen 30 SPF or higher if you will be outside. Some make-up now has SPF between 15 and 30 -- that's OK for your daily use. For example if you are just going from your house to car to work and back but not spending time outside, that makeup will provide enough coverage. If you'll be outside longer -- to take a walk, watch a little league game or swim at the beach -- reach for an SPF 30 or higher. If your skin gets irritated after applying sunscreen, try a mineral formula. If you tend to break out after applying sunscreen, try a formula that is made for acne-prone skin.
While skin cancer is more common in people with fair skin, red hair or freckled skin, people with other skin types and tones are not without risk. People with dark complexions should also wear sunscreen daily and practice sun safety.
Here's Dr. McKenzie's other tips for protecting our skin this summer:
There are ways to cover up besides sunscreen! Wear light, long-sleeve clothing to protect your skin. Linens are nice and airy. Wear a hat. Avoid the outdoors when the sun is at its peak. Seek shade. Carry an umbrella.
You missed a spot
Don't forget to apply sunscreen to the commonly missed places -- your ears, tops of your feet and hands. Wear a hat to protect the top of your scalp (in particular if your hair is thin, fair or if you are bald). If you can't wear a hat -- but, please wear a hat! -- use sunscreen on the top of your head. Dr. McKenzie says the top of the head is a common trouble spot when it comes to skin cancers.
Lips are super sensitive, and should be protected from the sun, particularly when you are near water (which reflects the sun). Try a chapstick with 30 SPF or more. And reapply often. Some colour lipsticks also offer SPF protection.
Wear shades and find shade
You can't put sunscreen in your eyes. And Dr. McKenzie doesn't recommend putting sunscreen on your eyelids - sweat can make the sunscreen run into the eyes and sting. Sunglasses do double duty - they protect the eyeballs and the eyelids. So don't forget them!
Rub it in
Be sure to put a thick coating of sunscreen on your skin (about a shot glass worth) and rub it in. If you are using a spray sunscreen, keep the bottle close to the skin when you spray. "With the spray bottles, it's a little harder to tell if you've missed a spot," Dr. McKenzie says. "Be sure to still rub it in and use enough sunscreen." Don't spray it in the wind -- you want to make sure it's getting onto your body.
Is there anything we can do to feel better or minimize a sunburn's effects? Dr. McKenzie says try a mild cortisone cream, available over-the-counter, to reduce the inflammation.
Are you a sun seeker? Be sure to protect yourself when you head outside!
Read more summer safety tips by Sunnybrook experts at health.sunnybrook.ca
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
MORE ON HUFFPOST:
A matte sunscreen? Bring on the heat! This innovative formula includes both itanium dioxide and zinc oxide which are both crucial in sun protection. The mousse-like formula is weightless and minimizes pour appearance, which your skin will thank you for. $34, available at skinceuticals.com.
Feeling like you have nothing on, this sunscreen absorbs beautifully into the skin and offers moisture that other suncare products can't. The best part? The formula doesn't leave your skin shiny or oily. Win, win. $14, available at well.ca.
Not sticky or greasy, Garnier's ultra-light, water-resistant lotion offers protection that is fragrant and colourant-free. $12, available at mass-market retailers.
Dermatologically-test, La Roche-Posay's formula dries quickly and contains a patented Mexoryl sunscreen technology that offers broad-spectrum UVA-UVB protection. $29, available at mass-market retailers.
If you're planning on running a marathon this summer (or you know, any form of physical activity), then this is the sunscreen for you. With its durable and light formula, Coopertone Sport stays on as you sweat in thanks to antioxidants that refuel the skin. And if you're someone who is afraid of getting sunscreen clogged in your pores and breaking out, don't be. This formula won't allow that to happen. $9.99, available at mass-market retailers.
The worst part about applying sunscreen is the white residue left behind. Consonant Skincare knows this, which is why they created The Perfect Sunscreen (yes, that's the name). Being 100 per cent natural and non-greasy, you might have just hit the sunscreen holy grail with this one. $45, available at consonantskincare.com.
Using everything from lavender to calendula flower, Alba Botanica's faster-absorbing sunscreen is 100 per cent vegetarian and incredibly moisturizing. Sold. $9.99, available at mass-market retailers.
No summer is complete without Banana Boat. The legendary sunscreen is said to test their products during, in and on seven real life conditions – sun, pool water, ocean water, wind, sweat, sand and extreme heat – so you know the stuff is good. And for all you heading to the sandy beach this summer, we know sand and lotion don't mix well, so this spray will work wonders with its "brush off" factor. $10, available at mass-market retailers.
Perfect for the whole family, Neutrogena's sunblock features a fast-absorbing mist that protects the skin even in the harshest summer climates. $10, available at mass-market retailers.
A plant-based complex that helps with premature skin-aging all while protecting your body in the sun? Yes please. $50, available at Sephora.
Planning on diving in the pool this summer? Then this may be the sunscreen for you. The block, perfect for the body and face, is an innovative product that works more effectively once activated in the water (cool, much?). Good for sensitive skin, Shiseido's product even helps reduce the appearance of photo-aging. $49, available at Sephora.
Biotherm Body Spray is for the sun lover who doesn't stop. The ultra-fine and ultra-sheer mist absorbs quickly into the skin giving you automatic protection. Perfect for physical activities, the block is water-resistant and non-sticky. $33, available at Hudson's Bay.
Organic beauty brand Juice Beauty have created a sunscreen that is chemical-free, making for the perfect broad spectrum sun protector. Mixing blends of organic jojoba and soothing aloe, this sunblock will give your skin the vitamins and antioxidants it craves. $16, available at juicebeauty.com.
Loaded with sunflower oil, beeswax, and vitamin E, this all-natural sunscreen is loaded with safe minerals for the skin. $`15.99, available at badgerbalm.com.
Expensive, yes. But is it jam-packed with innovative anti-aging treatments and primers? Yes. This high-functioning, multipurpose sunscreen will find your skin's dullness as it dries to a matte finish. $78, available at Sephora.
Follow Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sunnybrook