I have fair skin and have spent some time in tropical climates, so I’m always making sure that I avoid some of the biggest sunscreen mistakes, particularly when exposing my skin in the summertime. Inevitably though, everyone makes some sort of mistake when they expose their skin to the sun each summer. So, I’m going to tell you some simple things you can do to avoid making the biggest sunscreen mistakes and to truly protect yourself from those harmful Ultraviolet (UV) rays.
1. You Forget Your Lips
One of the biggest sunscreen mistakes is not applying sun protection to your lips. The skin on your lips still requires protection from both UVA and UVB rays, so it’s worth investing in a lip balm containing an SPF. If you’re surfing or require a water-resistant lip balm, you might want to go for one with SPF 15 or higher. You also need to reapply lip-balm more frequently, due to the fact we lick our lips often, and wipe them a lot, after eating and drinking. Clinique, Fresh and Bobbi Brown all make lipsticks and balms containing SPFs, so make sure you're using one this summer!
2. You Miss Key Areas
I know I’ve spent time sunbathing with what I think is full-body sunscreen protection, only to find after my shower that I missed some spots! It’s easy to avoid certain areas - they tend to be the ears, tops of your feet (including the toes), your neckline, collarbone, inner arms and any area exposed around your clothes-lines or swimwear.
3. You Use Body Formulas on Your Face
Facial sunscreens are specific to the skin on the face (which is a lot more delicate than the rest of your skin). Also, the formula is typically non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t block your pores nor cause break-outs/acne. The body spray sunscreens usually contain alcohol and can be very irritating to the facial skin. Neutrogena (choose the Helioplex formulas), Aveeno, La Roche-Posay, and other brands all produce dermatologist-approved formulas specifically for your face.
4. You Don’t Use Sufficient Quantities
The general rule of thumb dermatologists recommend is using one-shot glass of sunscreen or 1.5 fluid ounces per person. For the spray sunscreens, they recommend holding the can about 6-inches away from the skin and applying it all over (excluding the face of course; use your face sunscreen for that). Then, make sure you rub it in – even if the bottle states you don’t need to - as this will ensure you don’t miss any spots.
5. You Don’t Use a Broad-Spectrum Formula
Purchasing the right SPF for your skin type is key. We all know that not using any SPF or too low an SPF is extremely damaging for your skin, but choosing formulas and the right product wisely can be just as important. UVA and UVB (I correlate the “A” in UVA to ageing and the “B” to burning) rays both need to be protected against, and in the past, sunscreens used to only block UVB rays, but now companies are creating formulas that block both. Look for those brands that state “broad-spectrum” on the labels, so you know you’re getting adequate protection.
6. Not Reapplying Sunscreen
The majority of people think that once they’ve applied their coating of sunscreen, they’re good to go and they’re immune to the sun’s harmful rays. It’s actually good practice to reapply sunscreen every 80 minutes or so, or at least every two hours - even if your sunscreen states that it’s sweat and water-resistant - that way, you really know you're being protected!
7. You Skip It in the Shade or on Cloudy Days
Contrary to what we might think, even on cloudy, sunless days or when we’re sitting in a cool, shady spot, the sun’s rays are still being reflected off the ground - via grass, sand, and water at a pool or beach. Also, clouds let through more UV rays than infrared and visible light, so while temperatures may be lower, the brightness factor from UV rays isn't. Apparently 34% of UV rays still penetrate a beach umbrella, so it’s prudent to apply sunscreen, even if you’re sitting underneath one at a pool!
Ladies, remember these tips to avoid making the classic sunscreen mistakes this summer. Apply a good broad-spectrum sunscreen for your body, face (and don’t forget the lip-balm)! Choose an SPF based on your skin type, lifestyle, and propensity to burn too. It’s good practice to apply your sunscreen ahead of going out in the sunshine; that way it has time to penetrate your skin and work its magic. What are some ways you avoid making sunscreen mistakes? Please share in the comments section.