SUNSCREEN MISTAKES WE ALL MAKEThe first sunscreen mistake is not wearing any. By now, we all know spending too much time in the sun can increase risk for both skin cancer and premature skin aging. But even those of us with the best intentions can make mistakes when it comes to sunscreen; mistakes that can be costly for our skin.

Here are the most common sunscreen mistakes we make. The common mistake-

You’ve been using the same bottle for the past three summers. When it comes to sunscreen, expiration dates really do matter. The active ingredients in sunscreen can deteriorate over time, which means the protection won’t be as effective. What’s more, an open bottle is more likely to become contaminated with germs over time, as the preservatives meant to prevent that can also lose their efficacy.

You shell out the big bucks for the highest SPF possible. Many skin experts recommend using a sunscreen that carries an SPF of at least 30. So does that mean SPF 60 is twice as protective, or lasts twice as long? Nope! An SPF of 30, when applied in the appropriate amount, will block out about 96 percent of the sunburn-causing UVB rays from the sun. There’s no way to block out 100 percent of the sun’s rays with sunscreen.

Thinking you’re exempt because you have dark or olive skin. You’re not; you still need sunscreen. We live in a different environment now; the ozone layer is not as strong as it used to be! And while your ancestors might have gotten away with not wearing sunscreen, things have changed environmentally, so you need to make sure you’re applying and reapplying. The myth about dark skin not needing protection is just that -a myth.

You only apply sunscreen on sunny days. A cloudy day is not a sunscreen hall pass. Just because you can’t see (or feel the heat from) the sun doesn’t mean it’s not doing damage. UV penetrates through haze and fog and you can easily get sunburn!

You count on waterproof sunscreen when you’re swimming. There isn’t such a thing as “waterproof” sunscreen. In fact, a relatively recent iteration of FDA rules no longer even allows the word to be used on sunscreen bottles (along with “sweat-proof” or “sunblock”). Instead, based on testing, they can claim to be “water resistant” for either 40 or 80 minutes. After that? Reapply, reapply, reapply.

You only apply sunscreen when you know you’ll be outside. Sunscreen should be part of your daily routine 365 days a year. The sun’s rays can still reach your skin, for example, while you drive or sit by a window.

You miss common spots like the ears, scalp, and lips. You need to cover more than your arms, legs, chest, and back with sunscreen. Patients develop skin cancer on commonly missed areas like the scalp, ear, lips, front and back of neck, backs of hands, and top of the feet. Basal or squamous cell cancers (slow-spreading cancer in the outer layer of skin) most commonly affect these areas because they’re frequently exposed to sun.

Use sunscreen correctly for appropriate UV protection!