By Heather Brown

This was first published on May 21, 2021.

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — According to the Centers for Disease Control, Minnesota has the fourth highest rate of melanoma in the U.S.

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As summer approaches, dermatologists warn about the importance of protecting skin. All too often, doctors see patients not use sun protection as effectively as they can.

So, what sunscreen mistakes do we make? Good Question.

“The most common mistakes I see as dermatologist is people are not using enough,” said Dr. Mohiba Tareen of Tareen Dermatology. “They’ll use a thin layer and they will not reapply.”

Dermatologists recommend using two ounces — equivalent to a shot glass — of sunscreen for exposed areas of the skin.

“You should be filling that up, then applying it in a thick layer and really massaging it in,” Dr. Tareen said. “So you get your protection through that rubbing so the sunscreen can form a barrier, almost like an umbrella, over your skin.”

Dr. Tareen says when looking on labels, people should look for “broad spectrum” that protects against UVA and UVB rays as well as “water resistant.”

“We do recommend SPF 30,” she said. “That should be your baseline, if you’re going to be out and not reapplying, [SPF 50 and above] does give you a little extra protection, but that extra isn’t much more, so if you can do your SPF 30 and reapply every two hours, you are golden.”

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She also prefers creams and lotions over sprays because they tend to offer more coverage. Sprays, she suggested, could be used as backup. If people use the spray, she says be sure to use plenty of it and rub it in – all the way to the ends of your fingertips.

“I make sure to get my kids fingertips because we see so much skin cancer on fingertips,” she said.

She also points out that sunscreen can expire (be sure to check the dates on the bottle), be sure to wear it on cloudy says (80% of the sun’s rays can go through the clouds) and people of all skin colors should protect their skin.

“Any skin tone can get skin cancer,” she said.

As for make-up protecting skin, Dr. Tareen says don’t count on it. Instead, she recommends a lotion with sunscreen first before applying creams or powders.

And – for those people who still aren’t convinced sunscreen is for them?

“I see the repercussions now, I’m seeing my 50, 60, 70 year old patients come in with skin cancer, precancerous spots,” she says. “Now is the time to prevent your kids from being at the dermatologists all the time.”

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Heather Brown