Getting all the facts on sunscreen

Catherine Groux
Elaine Chao, left, and Lan Nguyen of Quincy, apply suntan lotion. They were using lotions of SPF 2 and SPF 8 on their bodies, and SPF 30 on their faces.

Think you know everything you need to know about sunscreen? Think — or perhaps better yet, lather yourself up — again.

Dermatologists say there are many misconceptions about how best to protect yourself from getting too much sun. Part of it has to do with lack of knowledge, like how much and how often to apply sunscreen. Some of it relates to how the products are pitched and labeled. Then there is common sense — that you should head in if you’ve been outside for a long period of time and are starting to feel the heat in your skin.

“What I tell patients is the number on your watch is more important than the number on your sunscreen,” said David Peckham of Dermatology Associates of Plymouth, Mass. “Go outside, but try to budget the hours.”

Ashly Lasko of Braintree, applies SPF 15 sunscreen to her skin.