Sunscreen Guide for Men: Who, When, Where & How

Sunscreen Guide for Men: Who, When, Where & How

Men need sunscreen too

The sun is an amazing star that is usually linked with some of our best memories: a warm swim outdoors, a walk on the beach, cool drinks on a patio, and many others. Unfortunately, the sun is also linked with undesired experiences: sunburns, ageing and cancer. The cause of these unwanted conditions are the UV rays beamed from the sun. UVB rays are responsible for burning the superficial layers of the skin while UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and cause more long-term harm.


Who should wear sunscreen?

Everyone! No one is immune to the effects of UV damage. Our skin has a natural SPF (sun protection factor) rating between 3-13. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology shows that the melanin in black skin provides an SPF rating somewhat equivalent to 13. In comparison, white skin has an SPF rating as low as 3. Some prescription drugs and over-the-counter products may make your skin more sensitive to UV rays, so SPF protection becomes a higher concern.

It is recommended that people of all skin tones wear sunscreen with at least SPF 30 which blocks up to 97 per cent of the sun’s harmful UVB rays. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and everyone is at risk. Approximately a third of all new cases of cancer in Canada are skin cancers, and the numbers continue to rise. Wearing sunscreen is one of the recommended preventative measures that you can do every day.


Where and when should I wear sunscreen?

Sunscreen should be applied generously and evenly, at least 15 minutes before you are exposed to the sun. Don’t forget to coat your ears, back of your hands, and scalp if you’re bald or have short hair. You should reapply at least every 2 hours, especially if using a chemical sunscreen. You may need to reapply more often if you’re sweating, swimming, or toweling off.

The sun’s rays are strongest between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., especially at noon, so try to avoid too much exposure to the sun during those times if you can. The sun is harsher the closer you get to the equator and at higher altitudes, so be extra careful in these environments.

The damaging effects of UV rays can also be increased if there’s a reflection from snow, water and light-coloured sand. Did you know that snow reflects up to 80 per cent of the sun’s rays! That’s right, you could be getting a double dose of radiation when skiing down your favourite run. So be sure to protect your skin in the winter too!


How do I apply sunscreen?

To get the full benefit from your sunscreen, it’s important to use the recommended amount: approximately one full shot glass for your entire body. An adult should use about 7 teaspoons (35mL) of sunscreen to cover all areas of exposed skin; one teaspoon each for your arm, leg, front, back, face and neck should be sufficient. Don’t forget to protect your lips as well by using a lip balm with SPF.

For men with body hair, using a cream-based sunscreen is sometimes not the best experience. Try using sunscreen oils with a minimum SPF 30. These oils penetrate through the barrier of hair without needing too much work to rub onto your skin.

Careful when using spray sunscreens! These products spray a fine mist, meaning you will likely need multiple coats before you have a full, even application. Spray indoors whenever possible to prevent any wind from blowing the sunscreen before it even hits your body. We don’t recommend spray sunscreens, but its better to try using the spray than nothing at all.

If you’ve ever wondered whether sunscreen and insect repellents can be used safely together, the answer is yes! Just apply the sunscreen first, then the insect repellent and you’ll be ready to enjoy all the best parts of summer.

Before using a new sunscreen for you or your family, consider testing the product on a small area of skin, like on the inner forearm, especially if you have sensitive skin. Check for a reaction after 48 hours. If the skin develops a rash, becomes itchy, or reacts in another way, try a different type or brand of sunscreen.


This TED video is the BEST summary of the effects of UV rays and sunscreen.
It covers everything that we want you to know with great visuals. Watch, Learn, and Be sun-safe!