Picking the right sunscreen for your family

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Summertime is meant to be spent outdoors, but whether it's at the park, pool or a sporting event, doctors are reminding families to lather on the sunscreen as they head outside.

This year, families will be looking at new labels. You won't see the term “waterproof,” and now sunscreens are required to filter out both UVA and UVB rays. While the labels are important, experts say there's something even more important parents need to be remembering throughout the day.

Sun safety is on the agenda for many parents this summer, as their kids leave behind school walls for sunshine and water.

"Ideally we want to wear long sleeves and long pants, though that gets kind of tough in the hotter summer months," father of two Dave Conrad said.

While some skip the sunscreen for layers, others turn to SPF creams and sprays to block out the sun. Experts say broad spectrum sunscreen is most protective, shielding the wearer from both UVA and UVB rays.

"While you're outside, your sunscreen is being degraded by the sun's rays," Doctor Jill Hilty said.

Dr. Hilty says SPF numbers can be confusing, even giving families a false sense of security when it comes to protection. She says many think SPF determines the length of time a person can wear sunscreen when in reality, it tells the percentage of UVB rays that are being blocked.

“The difference between SPF30 and SPF 60 is so minimum, if it's extra money to buy the 60, it's not worth the purchase," she said.

Instead, Dr. Hilty says it's all about re-application and making sure the wearer knows when it's time to put more on.

"If you're outside and you're not swimming or sweating, it's going to be every two hours that you need to reapply," she said.

"Every morning when I go out to play, my mom makes sure I put sunscreen on my face, my arms my legs and everywhere," Aspen Czarnecki said.

For parents, it's more about making sunscreen use a habit, so their children are protected from factors they can and can't avoid.

Sometimes people luck out and don't get a burn or tan from a lack of sunscreen, but Dr. Hilty says UVB rays only cause visible signs of damage. A person can still have UVA damage, but not experience anything physical.

Experts say one person in the United States dies every hour from skin cancer. Melanoma is currently the fastest growing cancer for 20-30 year olds.

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