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Top 5 Sunscreens for Athletes
Sports Image Gallery
Sports Image Gallery

These cricketers for England know how to protect their skin from the Sri Lankan sun. See more sport pictures.

Stu Forster/Getty Images

Runners, tennis players, swimmers, golfers and baseball players have more than one thing in common. They love playing sports, and they also spend a lot of time outside in the hot sun. All of that sun exposure can result in a killer tan, but getting too much sun can be risky. UVA and UVB rays can cause the progressive skin damage that leads to cancer.

In fact, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. More than a million Americans are diagnosed with it each year. Although most people develop the less harmful basal cell or squamous cell variety, the incidence of melanoma is rising, especially among young people, and it can be deadly [source: American Academy of Dermatology].

The best way to prevent skin cancer is to stay out of the sun, but if you play a sport there's little chance of that. If you are going to spend a lot of time outdoors playing, you need to wear sunscreen, which protects your skin by absorbing or reflecting the sun's rays. However, not just any sunscreen will do. In this article, you'll learn the top five criteria to look for when buying a sunscreen.

Remember that even the best sunscreen is useless if you don't put it on. Make sure to apply your sport sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside to play. And, apply it even on cloudy days. As much as 80 percent of the sun's ultraviolet radiation can sneak through the clouds, even on the most overcast days [source: American Academy of Dermatology].

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