Sunscreen Reality Check

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Dear Dr. Polis:

“I try to remember to use sunscreen all year even if it's not summertime but I'm confused about WHEN to apply sunscreen. I know you're supposed to apply sunscreen before going out into the sun--but how far in advance do I have to use it to get the benefit of the sunscreen?

”Sheryl P., Chicago

Hi Sheryl!

It's best applied 20 minutes or so before, but even if you apply it as you are going out the door, it is better than leaving it off. Remember to re-apply if you will be in harsh direct sunlight, after swimming or exercising, and if you can, walk on the shady side of the street, wear caps or hats, and UV blocking sunglasses. Remember that the windows on a car do not protect against uv damage.

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