5 Ways You’re not Getting the Most out of Your Sunscreen
- You're using expired sunscreen.
Applying an expired sunscreen is like gambling with your skin health. Though, in this case, it’s not a matter of win or lose. When you use an expired sunscreen, you’re always short-changing your skin. It’s just a matter of how much. In addition to being less effective, expired sunscreens may make your complexion more sensitive to the sun, increasing the chances of premature aging, burns and even skin cancer.
Expired chemical ingredients, like octinoxate and oxybenzone, tend to oxidize while physical ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, separate or take on a gritty texture. Sunscreens are also recommended to be used within a year of opening to prevent possible exposure to bacteria. If a sunscreen starts to smell off, this is likely the case. At this point, it’s best to discard it to avoid breakouts or
Pro Tip: Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity. Just because your sunscreen can last at least three years, doesn’t mean you should stockpile. It’s always good to have a spare on-hand, but if not stored properly in a cool place away from direct sunlight, your sunscreen could expire sooner than expected. Also, consider how sunscreen needs change from season to season.
- You’re choosing a sunscreen based solely on its SPF.
While SPF plays a role in sun protection, it shouldn’t be the decider when determining an effective sunscreen. Selecting a sun care product isn’t as simple as picking the one with the highest SPF. SPF 30 or greater is usually sufficient, as it shields against 97 percent of harmful UVB rays. SPF 50 is another popular choice, but this only increases the amount of rays avoided by one percent.
Instead of focusing solely on the SPF, keep an eye out for broad-spectrum sunscreens. A broad-spectrum sunscreen will ensure your skin is protected against UVA and UVB rays alike to prevent both premature aging and sunburns. Sunscreens that offer additional benefits are becoming increasing popular. For instance, the Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50 offers water-resistant, broad-spectrum sun protection with 22.5% zinc oxide and 22.5% titanium dioxide. It also protects against infrared radiation as well as blue light and pollution with potent antioxidants.
- You’re not applying enough sunscreen.
As mentioned earlier, if your sunscreen is lasting longer than a year after being opened, you might be applying less than the recommended amount. Apply approximately one ounce of sunscreen–about the amount of a standard shot glass–to adequately shield the entire body. Of course, the amount needed can vary depending on the clothes you wear and your location, but if you’re planning a day at the beach, expect to use at least a few ounces.
Board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Joel Schlessinger says, “I always tell my patients to purchase a large container, as having a smaller container will often lead to using less sunscreen, which ends up leading to inadequate protection and burning. The psychologic benefits of having enough sunscreen to cover the entire body lead to a better result immediately and down the line!”
Knowing how much sunscreen to apply and where to apply it go hand in hand. From your scalp to your feet, if it sees the sun, it needs protection. In case you needed extra incentive to apply sunscreen to your eye area, this cream nourishes with ceramides and conceals using a universal tint!
- You’re not reapplying sunscreen.
Every morning you apply sunscreen before stepping outdoors is a victory, but it’s only the first step to a sun-safe day. To be as protected as possible, it’s recommended to reapply sunscreen every forty to eighty minutes, but be sure to check your sunscreen’s packaging for specifics. If you’re swimming, sweating or toweling off, reapply sunscreen more often than you otherwise would. This goes for water-resistant formulas as well. There’s a reason why the FDA no longer allows sunscreens to make claims of being waterproof. While a sunscreen may be water-resistant, its effectiveness still diminishes from exposure to sun, sweat and water.
- You’re stopping at sunscreen.
Proper sunscreen application serves the complexion well, but when it comes to healthy skin, why settle for one line of defense? Before facing the sun, consider not only your sunscreen but your clothing as well. Sun-protective clothing can make a huge difference when defending against harmful UV rays. SPF is a household initialism that most people are familiar with, but what about UPF? UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, and as opposed to SPF, which measures protection against UVB rays, UPF indicates the amount of UV radiation that surpasses clothing and reaches the skin. UPF accounts for both UVA and UVB protection, and according to The Skin Cancer Foundation, sun-protective materials should offer a minimum UPF of 30 to provide adequate protection. From sunhats to shirts and swimwear, a variety of UPF clothing options are available to keep you covered during any activity, so you can stay safe without sacrificing style!