Trust us when we say sun protection should be on your radar no matter your age or where you live. Harmful UV rays can damage your skin come rain or shine, whether you’re indoors or you’re outdoors, and excess sun exposure can lead to sunburns, irritation, premature ageing, sun spots, pigmentation, and even skin cancer.
So, there truly is nothing more important than wearing SPF to protect your skin! However, it’s not always as simple as slapping it on, and if you don’t apply sunscreen correctly, unfortunately it won’t actually do anything for your skin. Here are six of the most common sun protection faux pas to avoid:
1. You’re using the wrong sunscreen altogether
Sunscreens fall under two broad categories—physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens deflect harmful UV rays away from your skin. Since the formulation works as a physical blocker, it tends to feel heavier and thicker than a chemical sunscreen with the same SPF, so it may not be the best choice if you’re prone to oiliness or acne. It also tends to leave a white cast!
Chemical sunscreens, contain active sun filters that absorb UV rays and release them to prevent them from causing damage to your skin. They are often a lot more lightweight and non-sticky, making them ideal for every day use. Both physical and chemical sunscreens will protect you from harmful UV rays but chemical sunscreens are much more comfortable to apply on a daily basis.
2. You’re not reapplying enough
The sun protection factor (SPF) of a sunscreen measures how much a sunscreen will protect your skin from UVB rays. Theoretically, sunscreens with a higher SPF offer more protection:
SPF 15 blocks 93% UVB rays
SPF 30 blocks 97% UVB rays
SPF 50 blocks 98% UVB rays
However, how often you reapply your sunscreen is actually much more important than the SPF factor; no sunscreen will last all day on your skin and you need to keep reapplying to keep your skin protected! Opt for sunscreens with SPF 30+ and reapply every 2-3 hours—especially if you’re spending time outdoors.
3. You skip important areas
It’s important to apply SPF to every nook and cranny, even where you think the sun doesn’t shine! It’s easy to miss very delicate and sensitive areas such as your eyelids, neck, the back of your knees and your lips, which all need as much, if not more, protection as everywhere else.
4. You’re only using it at the beach
UVA rays (the ones that age your skin) can penetrate through clouds and windows So even if you’re not at the beach or in direct sunlight, they can still damage your skin!
On top of that, blue light from your digital devices can damage your skin. According to a recent study, we now spend up to 13 hours a day glued to our screens, thanks in part to the global pandemic. Blue light is, quite literally, everywhere; mostly coming from fluorescent lamps, computers, laptops, TVs and smartphones. Too much blue light exposure can weaken your skin’s protective barrier and can lead to premature ageing and hyperpigmentation. Broad spectrum SPF will protect your skin from UV rays and blue light from your digital devices.
“Apply sunscreen every day and everywhere—on sunny days, cloudy days; outdoors as well as indoors”
5. You’re banking on the SPF in your makeup
A number of makeup products – such as foundations and tinted moisturisers – are touted with containing some level of SPF. While these products will still work to protect you from the sun on some level, it’s best not to rely on them entirely.
This is to do with product application. When you apply foundation or tinted moisturiser to your skin, you tend to have a lighter hand and will be more concerned with making it look even. When it comes to proper sun protection, more is more, so it’s best to be generous with it!
Additionally, you’re unlikely to reapply your makeup often throughout the day, which means the SPF protection won’t last all day. It’s important to reapply your sunscreen every 2-3 hours (even over your makeup) so it’s best to invest in an SPF that you can reapply often.
6. You’re relying solely on sunscreen
Sun protection doesn’t just come in a bottle. Clothing, wide-brimmed hats, scarves, and sunglasses can also go a long way in shielding your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. On top of that seek shade when possible and don’t spend too much time in direct sunlight!