You’ve heard it before, but it bears saying again. You have to wear sunscreen anytime you’re out in the sunshine. The rays from the sun can cause wrinkles and age spots, but they can also lead to skin cancer. Unfortunately, just putting on some sunscreen before you leave in the morning isn’t enough. An alarming number of women are making all sorts of sunscreen mistakes, myself included. Here the ones you want to avoid this summer and every day for the rest of your life.
1. You Missed a Spot
Most girls are pretty good at making sure their face, arms and legs are coated in sunscreen, but the sad truth is that that isn’t good enough. Skin cancer is common on places like your ears and even between your toes because those are areas that are often skimmed over when applying sunscreen. The back of your neck and your lips are other areas to be diligent about. Any skin that isn’t covered by clothing should get a good layer of SPF.
2. Even Dark Skin Needs Sunscreen
Women with dark skin may have a bit of natural SPF, but it is by no means enough to protect against the signs of aging or skin cancer. You might not burn as easily if your skin is dark, but you are still susceptible to the damaging effects of the sun’s UVA rays. No matter your skin color, sunscreen is a must.
3. Don’t Wait Too Long to Apply
Seconds before you head out the door isn’t soon enough to get the most sun protection. Most experts will tell you that you should slather on the SPF about 30 minutes before you head outside. That allows the product to sink into your skin and gives the ingredients a chance to start working. A sunscreen with titanium oxide or zinc oxide will begin working much more quickly so it might be a better bet if you find yourself waiting too long.
4. You Have to Reapply Often during the Day
I wish someone would invent sunscreen that lasted for 24 hours, but alas, that hasn’t happened yet. Most products require reapplication about two hours after you originally put it on, and then every two hours thereafter for as long as you’re outside. Once two hours has passed, the product stops being so effective. Likewise, if you get wet or towel off, you need to reapply.
5. Make Sure You’re Wearing Enough Sunscreen
A super thin layer is better than nothing, but you really need about a shot glass worth of sunscreen for your entire body. Even knowing this, many women still skimp on the SPF. This reduces the benefits and could leave you with a sunburn. Measure your sunscreen a few times to get an idea of how much you need for adequate protection.
6. SPF Isn’t the Only Thing You Should Look for
Sun protection factor, or SPF, is certainly an important thing to consider when choosing sunscreen, but it’s not the only one. Make sure your product offers broad spectrum protection, which means it blocks both UVA and UVB rays. You also want something that is water resistant, especially if you sweat a lot or are planning on swimming.
7. Not All Products Are Created Equal
Liquid sunscreen is likely your best bet for proper sun protection, but sticks, sprays and wipes are way more convenient. However, it’s harder to get enough on when you use these types of sunscreen products so make extra sure you’re getting it right when you apply. If you don’t have a bit of sunscreen shine, you need to put on more.
Which of these mistakes have you made? How do you plan to avoid making them in the future?