The Sun Safety Tips You Need This Summer

Practice sun safety by using our experts' sunscreen application dos and don'ts. Plus, a guide for the perfect fake tan.

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Protect Like a Pro with These Tips and Tricks.


Start indoors. Rub on a proper coating (one shot-glass-sized dollop for an average body) 15 minutes before heading outside to allow sunscreen to be fully absorbed into skin. Apply before getting dressed so you won't miss a spot. FYI: Expiration dates do matter. Check the back or bottom of the bottle before applying.

Try this hack to reach your back: Cover a long wooden spoon in plastic wrap, smear on lotion and swipe in circular motions.

Don't skip your scalp—or the part in your hair. Use spray sunscreen to lightly mist your hairline and any exposed area on the top of your head. Hair products with UV filters are formulated to protect your hair color, not the skin underneath.

Don't count makeup with SPF as protection on beach days. You'll be much less generous with foundation than you would be with actual sunscreen.

Even when practicing sun safety, sunburns can happen. When a day outdoors leaves you more burned than bronzed, find relief with these quick fixes from top docs.

"The best thing for a burn is unscented aloe vera gel. Put it in the fridge for a cooling effect." —Debra Jaliman, MD, dermatologist in NYC and author of Skin Rules

"Try a cold milk compress—lactic acid and probiotics are soothing—or sunflower oil to help skin repair itself." —Whitney Bowe, MD, dermatolgist in New York

"Take a dose of ibuprofen to bring down inflammation." —Alicia Barba, MD, dermatologist in Miami

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5 Common Sun Myths


1. If I use a high SPF (like 70), I don't need to apply as often. The sun safety guideline for reapplying is the same regardless of SPF: every two hours if you stay dry, every hour if you sweat or swim.

2. It's okay to skip sunscreen to get vitamin D. "I even hear this from patients who have had melanomas," says Jaliman. Be safe: Use sunscreen, and take a supplement for the proper dosage of D if you know you are deficient.

3. Sunscreen causes cancer. The studies that suggest this are not based on true science, says Bowe. They are small, limited studies on animals that don't translate to humans. In fact, the sun itself has been compared to arsenic and cigarette smoke in a study on the causes of cancer, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

4. I have dark skin so I don't need to wear sunscreen. Skin cancer can (and does) occur in all skin tones. Having a darker complexion does not exempt you from needing sun protection.

5. It's okay to tan as long as I wear a little sunblock. If you're significantly darker after a day outside, you've overpowered the lotion's ability to protect you, Barba explains.

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The Dos and Dont's of Sunless Tanning


Anna Babakitis, self-tanning expert at Louise O'Connor Salon in New York City, shares her golden rules for a flawless, streak-free faux tan.

DO exfoliate the night before with an oil-free scrub, like St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub ($4). Shave, wax and paint your nails before tanning.

DO start at your feet and work your way up to avoid leaving marks on your upper body from bending over.

DO apply in a circular motion for the most even color.

DO extend your tan with a gradual glow lotion or everyday moisturizer.

DON'T use body lotion, deodorant or perfume before or immediately after your tanner. These products create a barrier and may cause streaks.

DON'T shower for at least eight hours—color will develop over that time.

DON'T exercise until after you rinse. Also avoid saunas and Jacuzzis.

DON'T wear tight clothing or a sports bra right after you apply—both tend to soak up color. Wait 8 to 10 minutes before getting dressed, and loosen bra straps to avoid lines.

Originally published in the June 2016 issue of Family Circle magazine.