Summer’s over! So surely it’s okay to push that sunscreen to the back of the cupboard, isn’t it? It’s the transition into and out of summer that often gets us as we leave our skin vulnerable believing it’s time to abandon the sunscreen. Well think again! Our skin is exposed and unprotected now more often than we realize. Applying sunscreen should be as normal a part of your morning beauty regime as your favorite moisturizer is.
Miss-use of sunscreen leaves the door wide open to premature aging (sagging skin, wrinkles and melanin deposits) or worse, skin cancer. The following steps will help you to not only choose the right type of sunscreen but also get the best usage out of it for maximum protection.
1. Don’t Skimp!
If you know you’re going to be in direct sunlight throughout the day you will need to apply an ounce (1 shot glass) in order to cover your whole body. Make sure you apply 15-30 minutes BEFORE direct contact with the sun. And most importantly, reapply every 2 hours! Skimping on these crucial rules means you won’t be getting the SPF written on the label.
2. Stop thinking "the higher, the better"
Many will buy a sunscreen with SPF 50+ and think that it will last all day. Where SPF 30 will block out 90% of the sun’s rays, SPF 70 blocks 98%. The small difference makes it much more effective to simply buy SPF 30-50 (as recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology) and reapply.
3. Look out for “broad spectrum” formulas
Countless people do not realize that there are 2 types of UV rays emitted by the sun; UVA and UVB. UVA damages the skin on a much deeper level causing skin damage, lowering your immunity, and can also lead to melanoma, whereas UVB is what causes visible sunburn. Both are harmful in different ways and therefore you should look out to buy broad spectrum sunscreens that protect the skin from both types of radiation.
4. Different skin types need different sunscreens
Just like choosing the right moisturizer to suit your skin type, the same concept should be applied to your sunscreen choice- It’s not rocket science! Certain sunscreens may cause you to break out. Those with sensitive skin should use a fragrance-free type. Those who are acne-prone should find a light, oil-free formula. And those with dry skin should choose a hydrating cream with ingredients such as aloe or glycerin.
5. Ignoring the term ‘Incidental sun exposure’
The majority of sun exposure receives in an individual’s lifetime is during ‘Incidental sun exposure’ – walking outside, driving, sitting next to an office window etc. Meaning you can’t just apply sunscreen on those rare beach days; we must take extra care to keep to a daily sunscreen routine. Don’t like the idea of applying sunscreen daily? See point 6 below.
6. Non-sunscreen SPF options
Whilst you should be wearing an SPF daily, it doesn’t have to be sunscreen!
Other options include wearing a BB or CC cream with an SPF of 30 and up. Or wearing a powder sunscreen – it keeps your makeup in place for longer whilst providing protection (why didn’t I hear about this sooner!?).
7. Missing spots
There are a few pesky places where most people forget to apply sunscreen and unfortunately are often the places where skin cancer spreads from. These areas include; around the eyes, the nose tip, the lips (why not get a sunscreen lip balm?), tops of feet, the ears, the hairline and scalp.
8. Hoarding old sunscreen
Beware of the expiry date! So often we forget that sunscreen has an expiry date, those sunscreens sitting at the back of your cupboard from last summer are no longer any good. Some of the ingredients in sunscreen can become less effective over time. You have been warned!