Memorial Day weekend just kicked off the unofficial start of summer, and we’re thrilled to start spending more time outside.
More sun exposure means a greater health risk for the skin, however. For this year’s National Sunscreen Day, May 27, we’re highlighting some helpful tips on how to protect yourself and your family all summer long.
We’ll also walk through how you can take advantage of health benefits like your health savings account (HSA) to pay for crucial sun protection.Tip #1: Understand your risk
Ultraviolet rays from the sun can lead to harmful diseases like skin cancer. Although people with fairer skin or a family history of skin cancer may be at a higher risk, you can get it regardless of age, race or gender.
The sun is strongest in the summer, but its rays are harmful even on cloudy days. Snow, sand and water all increase its effects. You can assess your risk daily with the UVA Index issued by the National Weather Service and EPA.
Tip #2: Choose the right sunscreen
Sunscreen is a great way to protect against UV exposure, preventing burning and even slowing signs of aging.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends looking for water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. If you’ll be outside all day, you may want to consider a product with SPF 50.
Tip #3: Apply sunscreen appropriately
Most adults require at least one ounce of sunscreen to cover all exposed skin, including the face and neck, arms, legs, chest and back. It takes 15 to 20 minutes for the body to absorb sunscreen, so remember to apply it before heading outside.
Reapply every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
Tip #4: Consider using different types of sunscreen
There are many different types of sunscreen and you may prefer different products at different times.
For the face and dry skin in general, consider cream-based sunscreen. Hairy areas are best covered with gel-based products, and the lips and eyes may require stick sunscreen.
If you have young children or sensitive skin, look for specially developed sunscreen products.
Tip #5: Seek shade and wear hats
Outside of using sunscreen, you can protect your skin by sitting in the shade, wearing sunglasses and wearing hats. If possible, consider long sleeves when spending long hours outdoors.
This is especially important between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
Paying for sunscreen with a tax-advantaged health benefit
Did you know you can use your employee health benefits to help pay for sunscreen products?
Sunscreen with SPF 30 or above is considered a qualified medical expense1. That means you can use the funds in your health savings account2 (HSA) to pay for sunscreen, or you could be reimbursed through your HSA, flexible spending account3 (FSA) or health reimbursement arrangement4 (HRA). No prescription is required.
Stay safe this summer by playing smart in the sun! And be sure to take advantage of your HealthEquity HSA, FSA or HRA by paying for sunscreen with tax-advantaged dollars.
Check out our Qualified Medical Expense tool to see what else is eligible.
1It is the members’ responsibility to ensure eligibility requirements as well as if they are eligible for the expenses submitted.
2HSAs are never taxed at a federal income tax level when used appropriately for qualified medical expenses. Also, most states recognize HSA funds as tax-free with very few exceptions. Please consult a tax advisor regarding your state’s specific rules.
3FSAs are never taxed at a federal income tax level when used appropriately for qualified medical expenses. Also, most states recognize FSA funds as tax-free with very few exceptions. Please consult a tax advisor regarding your state’s specific rules.
4In addition to restrictions imposed by law, your employer may limit what expenses are eligible for reimbursements. It is the members' responsibility to ensure eligibility requirements as well as if they are eligible for the plan and expenses submitted.
HealthEquity does not provide legal, tax or financial advice. Always consult a professional when making life changing decisions.