It’s officially fall in the desert, so you know what that means? Everyone is heading outside either walking, hiking, biking or just simply enjoying a patio meal.

But don’t be fooled, even though there might be a cooler breeze in the air, those steamy rays are still blazing. If you put on sunscreen before you left the house this morning, give yourself a pat on the back. But before you celebrate with too much gusto, you may want to ask yourself whether you’re taking all the sun safety steps you should for your age and lifestyle.

Most people know that the first step to preventing skin cancer is sunscreen, but many don’t realize that the proper way to protect your skin changes with time and circumstance.

This year, an estimated 10,130 people will die of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. That equates to one person dying every hour. Samuel Figueroa, M.D., internal medicine doctor at Golden Apple Medicine and on the medical staff at St. Luke’s Medical Center, specializes in the treatment of sun-damaged skin. He can provide insight on how to create a sun safety regimen uniquely tailored to your personal lifestyle. 

Age matters: Sun safety isn’t really a one-size-fits-all solution for most families. The type of sunscreen you should use varies with your age. Formulas specially designed for babies and children help prevent irritation to delicate skin but may not be strong enough to protect older users. On the other end of the spectrum, as we age, our skin loses some of its natural protective qualities. Combine that with medications commonly prescribed for older patients, and senior skin is especially sensitive to sun damage.

It’s never too late: Many people assume that if they didn’t care for their skin in their younger years, the damage is done. Not so. Starting to protect your skin in middle age, or even later, is better than never at all. You may not be able to reverse previous damage, but you can definitely prevent additional harm from the sun’s rays. 

Fair isn’t always fair: The saying may suggest that blondes have more fun, but when it comes to sun safety, the fairest complexions are at the greatest risk for sun damage. People with light hair, skin and eyes should take extra precautions.

Lifestyle: A general rule of thumb is to reapply sunscreen every two hours, but if you’re especially active, chances are you’ll sweat away that protective layer sooner. Swimming and robust physical activity are good reasons to reapply sooner.