It’s estimated that sun exposure is responsible for up to 80% of visible skin aging symptoms. But the harmful effects of the sun’s rays go beyond just how our skin looks. More importantly, it’s been proven that exposure to UV radiation increases the risk of developing skin cancer.

All of this makes sunscreen a must-have for everyone. Thankfully, they are now so easy to get. You can even order them online through sites like YesStyle and other web retailers. But there are still some things that people get wrong about sunscreen. Here are five important ideas that everyone should know:

  1. More SPF Isn’t More Protection

Most people consider SPF as a definitive way to measure the effectiveness of sunscreen. Therefore, the higher the SPF, the more protection you get. But it isn’t that simple.

Sun Protection Factor or SPF actually measures how long a single application can delay the effects of UV radiation. For example, an SPF 50 sunscreen means that you’ll take 50 times longer than usual to experience sunburn. If you tend to get a sunburn after 10 minutes, SPF 50 multiplies that to 500 minutes or 3 hours.

Since a single coat of sunscreen can only last for up to 2 hours, paying a premium for SPF levels above 70 can have negligible benefits. The American Cancer Society suggests an SPF of at least 30 for everyday use. If you’re expecting to stay under the sun for long periods, SPF 50 is enough to offer better protection.

  1. Always Apply in Advance

When we’re in a hurry, it’s tempting to just slap on some sunscreen and get out of the house before it’s even dry. Don’t do this. Whenever possible, wait for some time between applying sunscreen and leaving your house. This gives your skin enough time to properly absorb the product, ensuring its effectiveness.

Applying sunscreen shortly before going out, or when you’re already outside, leaves your skin unprotected while the product is still being absorbed. For the best results, apply 30 minutes before going outdoors so that it works as it should.

  1. Sunscreen is Never Waterproof

Unfortunately, truly waterproof sunscreen doesn’t exist. At most, any brand is just water-resistant. According to the FDA, sunscreen can only maintain its SPF for 40 minutes to an hour after diving in the water. But this estimate can go further down because the product also gets wiped away when you dry yourself with a towel.

Don’t think of sunscreen as something you should only apply once. Make sure to reapply every 30 minutes if you’re sweating heavily or each time you get out of the water.

  1. You’re Probably Not Using Enough

Though sunscreen is indeed effective, many of us have been guilty of overestimating its effectiveness. Multiple studies have found that people generally apply only a quarter of the ideal amount. But sunscreen requires a moderate amount to work properly.

When spread too thin, sunscreen’s effective SPF goes down drastically. In addition, it will also take less time for sweat to wash it off. Make sure to apply at least one ounce of sunscreen for your entire body. Think of this amount as the same size as a golf ball.

  1. It’s Okay to Block Vitamin D

Lastly, it’s worth noting that the sun isn’t all that bad. Sunlight is also rich in vitamin D, an important nutrient for bolstering our immune system. For this reason, some people argue that protecting yourself from UV radiation deprives you of an important nutrient. But don’t put down that bottle of sunscreen just yet.

It’s true that sunscreen reduces the amount of vitamin D we receive from the sun. However, dermatologists believe it’s a fair trade for a lower risk of cancer. Besides, there are alternative sources of vitamin D to help you make up for it. Aside from taking multivitamin supplements, you can also eat vitamin D-rich food such as fatty fish, cheese, and egg yolks.

Know How to Protect Yourself

As long as it’s daytime, there’s no escaping the sun’s rays. Even the slightest radiation damages our skin beyond repair. But just slathering on sunscreen isn’t enough. Use it properly to keep yourself protected from sunlight’s damaging effects.