This Memorial Day, here's a smarter way to use sunscreen

sunscreen, uv light, mineral sunscreen, this memorial day, here's a smarter way to use sunscreen
Oscar Wong/Getty Images

There are a lot of choices to make when you're standing in the sunscreen aisle. Whether it's picking a brand, the SPF, or simply just choosing between lotion or spray – it's easy to get hung up on picking the right product. The good news is that the kind of sunscreen you use doesn't matter all that much. In fact, most of the effectiveness of sunscreen depends on how you use it. The bad news is that many people are using sunscreen incorrectly.

And there are major repercussions. Each year 84,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with melanoma. About 90% of these skin cancers are linked to the ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Sunscreen does protect the skin, but dermatologists have found six very common mistakes people make when it comes to using it.

NPR science correspondent Allison Aubrey talks to host Regina G. Barber about the science behind sunscreen and how to avoid making these mistakes this summer. They also get into which sunscreens may be better than others.

Have other science stories you want us to cover? Email us at [email protected].

Listen to Short Wave on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.

Listen to every episode of Short Wave sponsor-free and support our work at NPR by signing up for Short Wave+ at plus.npr.org/shortwave.

This episode was produced by Carly Rubin. It was edited by Jane Greenhalgh and Rebecca Ramirez, and fact-checked by Allison Aubrey and Jane Greenhalgh. The audio engineer was Robert Rodriguez.

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