Be Sun Safe
This page was reviewed or revised on Monday, August 15, 2016 9:23 AM
Most types of skin cancer are caused by too much UV (ultraviolet) radiation from the sun or other sources, like tanning beds. That means most cases of skin cancer can be prevented.
Be sun safe:
- When UV index is 3 or higher, protect skin as much as possible. Find the UV index in your area or download a free UV index phone app.
- Limit sun exposure, especially between 11 a.m.-3 p.m., when UV rays are strongest.
- Do not let clouds fool you. Most UV rays get through.
- Cover up! Wear a hat, long-sleeved shirt and pants in the sun. Learn how to use clothing as sun protection.
- Wear sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30-plus. It may be labelled "broad spectrum."
- Use water-resistant sunscreen for better protection.
- Use sunscreen on all exposed skin, except around the eyes and on lips. Re-apply as directed, and after sweating, towelling off or swimming.
- Use SPF 30 lip balm to protect lips. Re-apply every hour.
- Keep babies less than one year old out of direct sunlight. Ask your health-care provider or pediatrician about sunscreen for babies. Also see Children's Sun Safety.
- Pick sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB protection. Learn how sunglasses protect your eyes.
- Look for shaded areas under trees, umbrellas, or awnings.
Combine steps for the best protection. Natural protection (i.e. shade, clothing and hat) is the first choice for protection.
There are many choices of sunscreen. Match the choice with your needs.
- sweat proof
- for wet skin
Apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going outside. Even if you forget, it's not too late. Apply as soon as you remember.
- Use lots for full protection. Apply one palmful to each arm and to each leg.
- Cosmetics and skin care products do not contain sunscreen unless listed on label.
- Self-tanning creams do not provide sun protection. Apply an SPF 30 or higher each day.
- Sunscreens are generally safe during pregnancy.
- Store sunscreen in a cool place, and never leave it in a vehicle for long periods of time. Light and heat affect a sunscreen's ability to work.
- If sunscreen freezes or overheats, throw it out.
- If it changes colour or smell, throw it out.
- Do not use sunscreen after the expiry date.
If using a bug repellent and sunscreen at the same time, apply sunscreen first and wait 20 minutes before using the bug repellent.
Avoid combined sunscreen/bug spray products. Sunscreen usually needs to be re-applied more often than repellents.
Sunscreens are safe for skin. Safety, how well it works and quality are checked by Health Canada.
Sunscreen does not give full protection from UV rays.