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Students and staff can use sunscreen on skin that is not already covered with sun protective clothing. Sunscreens reduce the amount of dangerous UV rays that reach and damage the skin by reflecting or absorbing the radiation. Sunscreen and lip balm should have an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 15 or more. On average, SPF 15 provides about two hours of protection for a light-skinned person on a sunny summer day. Higher SPFs (e.g., 30 or 45) can be used for more hours of protection.

The first priority of a sunscreen and lip balm policy is to allow the usage of these items without a physician's note or prescription, in accordance with California law. Sunscreen and lip balm usage can also be encouraged, or even required, for students and staff spending time outdoors, especially on high UV days.

Sunscreen extends the skin's natural protection by a factor of the SPF number. If your skin usually burns in 10 minutes, it won't burn for 150 minutes if you are wearing sunscreen with SPF 15 (10 minutes x SPF 15 = 150 minutes or 2½ hours). Also, that SPF 15 blocks 93% of UV rays. An SPF 50 blocks only 98%. So no matter what, some UV is getting through to the skin. No sunscreen lasts all day or blocks 100% of the sun's UV radiation.

Tips to promote sunscreen:

Have more questions about sunscreen? Check out Skin Cancer 101 - Sunscreen and the FDA's report on the labeling.


Fast Facts

Most sunscreens expire after two years and should be replaced. If your sunscreen lotion feels gritty, the active ingredients may have come out of solution.

Promoting Sun Safety in California Elementary Schools.

Sun Safe Schools Home Page