When it comes to buying and applying sunscreen, there are quite a few things to keep in mind. I wish it were as easy as slathering on some random sunscreen in the morning and not having to worry about it until the next day, but there’s so much more to it than that. There are so many different brands, types and formulas that it can be a bit overwhelming when you’re not sure what you really want and need. Allow me to make the task of buying and applying sunscreen a little easier with these 9 helpful tips!
1. Bigger is Better
When you’re talking SPF when buying and applying sunscreen, most of us tend to assume that the bigger the number on the bottle, the better. Well, it’s true to a point. Generally, you don’t want to use a sunscreen with an SPF less than 15 so as long as it’s more than SPF 15, you’re good. However, you don’t necessarily need SPF 90 either. Sunscreen with high SPF can be misleading because it seems like the higher than SPF, the longer it lasts and better it works, but that’s not true. The Environmental Working Group recommends choosing sunscreen that contains an SPF over 15 and under 50.
2. Know the Difference
In case you’re wondering about sweat and waterproof formulas vs. sweat and water-resistant formulas, in 2011 the FDA banned companies from using the terms sweat proof and waterproof since the claims are false. So now you’ll only see the terms sweat resistant and water resistant on sunscreen. If you plan on being active outdoors, go for a water resistant formula which will provide you with up to 80 minutes of protection before you need to reapply.
3. Sensitive Skin
If you have sensitive skin or certain skin conditions like rosacea, opting to use a kids’ sunscreen might be your best bet. According to WebMD, sunscreens for kids generally contain fewer irritants and chemicals than adult formulas so there is less chance of having a bad reaction. Make sure you look for sunscreens that don’t contain alcohol or fragrances, also.
4. Broad Spectrum Protection
Another important thing to look for on the label of your sunscreen is the term broad spectrum protection or broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection. While both types of rays are dangerous and can cause cancer; UVB rays mainly cause sunburn while UVA rays can cause wrinkling.
5. Apply Early
If you’re the type to apply your sunscreen once you’re already outside, you might want to rethink your routine. For best results, apply sunscreen 15-20 minutes before you go out so you give it a chance to properly absorb before you’re exposed to the sun. The general rule is to apply about a shot glass worth of sunscreen to your entire body in a thin, even layer.
6. Apply in the Right Order
I used to get confused on the order to apply my facial skin care products, especially when it comes to sunscreen since some tend to be on the thicker side and I really want to avoid breaking out. According to skincancer.org, you should apply any topical medications first, then moisturizer, sunscreen, foundation, powder and lastly blush. Some skincare experts recommend touching up with a powder that contains SPF for additional coverage in the afternoon.
7. Opt for Lotion
These days it seems like just about any beauty product you can think of comes in spray form, but when you’re talking sunscreen, sprays are not the way to go. It might seem like a quick and easy way to apply sunscreen all over, but The Environmental Working Group warns against using them since there are inhalation risks and you run the risk of missing spots.
8. Ingredients to Avoid
Another confusing aspect of choosing sunscreen is all the ingredients. It seems like one minute something is hailed as the next best thing and the next minute we’re told to avoid it like the plague. As of now, some of the top ingredients to avoid are oxybenzone, parabens and retinyl palmitate. Oxybenzone and parabens have been found to penetrate skin, get into the bloodstream and act as estrogen in the body. Retinyl palmitate has been found to speed up the skin tumors when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight.
9. Don’t Forget to Reapply!
No matter how great of a job we are at applying sunscreen before we go out, we mustn’t forget the importance of reapplying it. WebMD suggests reapplying every 2 hours no matter how long it says it will last, just to stay on the safe side. If you’ve been in the water or sweating, reapply even more frequently. Remember that no matter how grey the sky may appear, damaging rays are still present so don’t save sunscreen only for bright, sunny days!
I hope sunscreen is already a part of your regular skincare routine. If not, it’s never too late to start. Sunscreen isn’t just for people who are trying to avoid wrinkles, it also protects us from sun burns and skin cancer. Do you have any helpful tips on using sunscreen, we’d love to hear it!