You may know all about the importance of proper hygiene and the tips necessary for safe swimming. You might even have upgraded your pool to a salt system for all of those added benefits. But if you’re not aware of the importance of protecting yourself from the sun, your swimming season may not be as safe as you think it is. Here’s everything you need to know about keeping your family safe from the sun this spring and summer.

What’s the deal with SPF?
As you probably know, sunscreen and sunblock come¬†with a Sun Protection Factor rating, also known as SPF. According to the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, this rating tells you how long a sunscreen will stay effective on your skin. You can find out how long you’ll be protected by multiplying the SPF rating of a product by the length of time it takes you to get a sunburn without protection. So, if you usually get burned after 10 minutes in the sun without sunscreen, and you have a product with SPF 15, that particular sunscreen will keep you from getting burned for 150 minutes. The American Association of Dermatology recommends using products with at least SPF 15, but according to UCSF, recent clinical trials have shown SPF 30 to offer better protection.

Do I need broad-spectrum protection?
With so many sunscreens and sunblocks on the market, it can be difficult to know which ones will be the most effective. While SPF is important, it’s also crucial to find formulas with broad-spectrum protection. The MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas notes that broad-spectrum sunscreen protects you from both UV-A and UV-B rays. UV-A rays increase your risk of developing skin cancer, while UV-B rays are responsible for sunburns and skin damage. According to the source, you should look for the ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, both of which offer broad-spectrum coverage.

When’s the best time to apply sunscreen, and how much do I need to put on?
Applying sunblock by the pool might be part of your swimming routine, but the truth is, you should be applying it a half hour before you even go outside. The MD Anderson Cancer Center explains that this is how long it may take for your skin to completely absorb the sunscreen. As for how much to put on, CNN recommends using an entire shot glass worth of sunscreen on your body and another teaspoon on your face, but some dermatologists suggest using even more than this.

How often should I reapply?
Many people think that after one sunscreen application, they’re covered for the rest of the afternoon, but that’s not true at all! As you now know, SPF only protects you for a certain amount of time before it’s no longer effective. A good rule of thumb is to apply sunscreen every two hours, notes CNN, but that’s only if you’re lounging by the pool. If you’re swimming or sweating a lot, you’ll need to put it on again more often – every 60 or 90 minutes.

How else can I protect myself from sun damage?
While sunscreen is certainly one of your best friends in the summer, there are a few other ways you can increase your protection. One way is to wear protective clothing and accessories, like wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses and long-sleeved shirts. You could also seek the comfort of a shady area – especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is the strongest, states the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Phoenix pool remodeling can set you up with a great new deck – perfect for a big, shady umbrella!