“Even on a cloudy summer day, up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can pass through the clouds,” says Shinjita Das, MD, MGH dermatologist and technology director in the Department of Dermatology. “We expect people to enjoy the outdoors, so here are some simple tips to help you protect your skin.”

Das encourages good sun safety, which means not only using sunscreen, but knowing how to read sunscreen labels and how often to apply. Choosing the right sunscreen can help reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging caused by the sun.

Reading labels:

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that consumers choose sunscreens that state three things on the label:

-SPF 30 or higher-Broad Spectrum: This means the sunscreen protects the skin from UVA and UVB rays.
-Water Resistant up to 40 or 80 minutes: After that amount of time, sunscreen can no longer claim waterproof or sweatproof.

Use caution near water or sand, says Das, as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which increases chances of getting a sunburn. Also know that UVA rays – which cause premature aging, wrinkles and age spots – can pass through window glass.

When to apply:

Sunscreen should be applied early, often and enough.

-Early refers to about 20-30 minutes before going outdoors.
-Enough means making sure you are using enough sunscreen – usually about two tablespoons for adults for the entire body. Remember to rub in well.
-Often means every two to three hours while outdoors. Apply sunscreen every hour if you are going swimming. Reapply sunscreen immediately after toweling off, sweating or potentially rubbing off sunscreen.

“One in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetime, so limiting sun exposure is the most reliable way to reduce the risk of skin cancer,” says Das. “So while you enjoy the outdoors, remember to protect your skin – seek shade, wear sun protective clothing and apply sunscreen.”

The Blum Center will host a sun safety table Monday through Friday, from 9 am to 4:30 pm through the end of July. Stop by to learn more about safe sun habits.