Is Sunscreen Necessary?
BeneFIT Physical Therapy

© Mykola Sosiukin –

With Memorial Day Weekend coming this week a lot of people will be heading outdoors to bar-be-cue, have holiday parties, enjoy time at area lakes, and head to the beach in the inaugural start of summer!  Wherever you are heading this weekend make sure to pack the sunscreen!

But is sunscreen truly that important still?  Earlier in the year an interesting article from Outside magazine citing current research called into question the long held beliefs about sunscreen, how truly effective it was as a barrier to the sun, and just how safe sunscreen really is.  As interesting as that article is the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) continues to promote sunscreen as a vital tool in preventing skin cancer for everyone, regardless of age, gender, or race.

15 minutes in the sun increases risk of skin damage1.

It is important to apply sunscreen regularly whenever you are going to be outside.  The AAD recommend that most adults use about an ounce of sunscreen to cover their entire body (for reference that is about the size of a shot glass full of sunscreen) about 15 minutes prior to going outside as the first application.   At the bare minimum you should re-apply sunscreen every two hours, however the more active you are, the more frequently you should re-apply sunscreen. A broad-spectrum sunscreen offers the best protection as it protects from both types of UV radiation: UVA rays and UVB rays3. Water-resistant sunscreens improve protection when sweat is present. The AAD recommends a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30, or higher, as it filters out 97% of UVB rays. Click here to learn more about sunscreen!

Peak hours of UV radiation occur between 10 am – 2 pm 1,3.

To avoid excessive sun exposure it is best to avoid going outside between 10am and 2pm. However, if you find it impossible to refrain from being outside between those hours, then be sure to cover your skin as much as possible. The less skin showing the better! Dark fabrics, polyester, rayon, and wool provide the most protection from sun exposure. Avoid wearing cotton fabrics, especially when exercising outdoors, because the fabric becomes more permeable when wet with sweat. Wear well-fitting sunglasses with large lenses and a nonslip nose piece to block out sun rays from all angles. Use a wide-brimmed hat for added protection for your head and neck1.  A good rule of thumb is that if your shadow is shorter than you are try to fins some shade to be under.

BeneFIT Physical Therapy is Sunscreen necessary

© Michael Rosenwirth –

Sand reflects 10-15% UV radiation1.

Be aware of your surroundings. Various surfaces (for example water, sand, and snow) reflect the sun’s radiation which increases your risk of overexposure. In addition, locations at higher elevations have more intense UV radiation than lower elevations1. Even on cloudy days 80% of the sun’s UV rays make it through the clouds3, so make sure to use all of the UV radiation protection strategies all the time!



  • 1. Lynn J, Urda J, and Pierce P. Sun Exposure and Exercise. The Good, the Bad, and the Behavior Change. ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal 2016; 20(3): 11-15.
  • 2. Ogan D, Pritchett K. Vitamin D and the Athlete Risks, Recommendations, and Benefits. Nutrients 2013; 5(6):1856-1868.
  • 3. Renda, Elisabeth. Are You Sun Safe When You Exercise? PUBLICATION. 2015. Available at: Accessed May 5, 2016.
  • 4. MedlinePlus. Sun Exposure. Also called: Sunburn. U.S National Library of Medicine. Available at: Accessed May 5, 2016.