TELUS Health Care Column- Summer skin protection

By Dr. Rhonda Low, Family Physician, TELUS Health Care Centres

As we finally start to experience better weather, it’s hard to resist staying outside for hours. But that also means we need to be sun savvy.

Which are the better sunscreens to use?

Look for a mineral sunscreen containing titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, but check the SPF number. Many cosmetics and moisturizers include SPF factors of 15, which may be sufficient on a regular workday when you’re outside for a few minutes, but it’s not enough for a day at the beach.

If you’re planning to spend time outside, use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, but not more than 60. Sunscreens with a SPF higher than 60 may not provide any extra protection, but they can encourage people to stay outside longer, or reapply their sunscreen less, because they feel more protected. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, too.

Sunscreen only works if you wear it properly.

Sunscreen should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before heading outside and then reapplied every two hours, or immediately after swimming —  even if it’s waterproof.

It’s also critical that you use enough. Insufficient amounts of sunscreen result in less SPF protection, and most folks only use about 25% of the recommended amount.[1] For the best protection, an  average person needs to use about a quarter of a regular sized bottle. That’s equal to about a shot glass full.


But sunscreen is only a start.

It’s important to adopt other sun-safe behaviours such as wearing a wide brimmed hat (at least 3 inches wide) and sun-protective clothing. And don’t forget: you can even sunburn your eyes, so use a good pair of sunglasses. Babies should wear them too.

Learn more about TELUS Health Care Centres’ personal health services for the whole family.

[1] AADA. 2021. “Sunscreen FAQs”