The idea of sun protection seems simple enough, so how do you manage to get burned summer after summer? Well, it’s because we make a lot of mistakes. Here are 10 common errors we make every summer.
You don’t wear sunscreen at all
It’s a simple fact: no matter the colour of your skin, how tanned you already are (note: even a hint of a tan indicates sun damage, so tanning at all is a no-no) or how immortal you feel, if you don’t wear sunscreen and you go out in the sun, you will get burned. And usually quite badly. Then you have to deal with a scorched face, neck and back, uncomfortable sleeps, peeling skin and the lingering worry that you might have skin cancer. So, yeah, don’t go outside without sunscreen.
You choose the wrong SPF
Yes, you may have gone with an SPF 4 in the ’80s, but that’s really not going to cut it, unless you’re willing to reapply every 10 to 20 minutes. The SPF or sun protection factor extends the amount of time you can spend in the sun before burning by the number on the bottle. So if it takes you 10 minutes to burn, in theory, an SPF of 30 would give you 300 minutes before you need to reapply.
You don’t reapply our sunscreen
Yes, we just said that an SPF 30 might give you up to 300 minutes before you burn, but this number can change depending on the UV index each day and, of course, your own skin. Don’t get cocky. You should reapply your sunscreen, no matter the SPF, at least every two hours.
You wait until we’re outside to apply sunscreen
There are two types of sun protection: physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens include ingredients like zinc and titanium dioxide and provide a physical barrier between your skin and the sun. These are effective immediately. Chemical sunscreens, however, need to be applied 20 to 30 minutes prior to sun exposure before they actually protect you. Chemical sunscreens have active ingredients like avobenzone, octisalate and homosalate. These chemicals are rubbed into skin and absorb the sun’s rays so your skin doesn’t. So, get in the habit of putting it on before you leave the house, and you’ll save your skin.
You’re not wearing enough
The days of lazing on a lounger in a bikini in the full sun are over—or should be. Again, tanning at all means skin damage so unless you want to be wrinkly like a raisin, stay in the shade or cover up. No matter how much sunscreen you apply, you should also wear a hat. Your forehead, nose, cheekbones and chest are almost always in the sun, no matter how you’re standing, sitting or lying down. So you need to make sure those parts get extra protection. And while we know it’s hot, covering shoulders and arms with a light top isn’t so tough. You’ll be happy later when you don’t have terrible tan lines and a lobster-red chest.
You ignore important body parts
You’re used to applying sunscreen to your face, arms, legs and back, but what about your ears, the back of your neck and feet? These spots often get ignored and get burned. And just because you can’t reach that spot on your back doesn’t mean you don’t need sunscreen there. Get help or wear a t-shirt.
You use last year’s sunscreen because it probably still works, right?
Sunscreen has an expiration date. Once a sunscreen has expired, its active ingredients are no longer effective. So be sure to check the date on your bottle before you use it, and if there isn’t a date, stay on the safe side and buy a new bottle.
You aren’t wearing sunscreen while swimming
The water does not protect you from the sun. In fact, water reflects the sun like a mirror. This means that if you don’t wear sunscreen before you hit the water, you will come out of the ocean or pool red-faced. Apply water resistant sunscreen before swimming and reapply after towelling off, no matter the SPF or waterproof promise!
You’re relying on makeup for SPF protection
Your foundation with SPF 15 or 30 will not protect you from getting burned. First, you probably only apply it to your face. Second, you need to reapply your sun protection at least every two hours. That means either reapplying your makeup (which seems unnecessary) or layering sunscreen over your makeup every couple of hours.
You choose the worst time of day to go outdoors
While you probably spend all morning in the office and can’t wait to get outside during your lunch break, the sun is at its peak strength between 11 A.M. and 3 P.M. This doesn’t mean you should sit at your desk all day, but it does mean you should cover up with sunscreen and choose a shady spot when you finally get outdoors. And if it’s the weekend? Maybe don’t plan a long, boozy brunch on a patio if you don’t have a hat and sunscreen.
So, get sun smart. Wear sunscreen, even if you don’t want to. The benefits (protection, healthier skin) outweigh any of your reasons for not putting it on. If you can’t remember if you’ve put it on in the last two hours, reapply. It’s better to put it on than to not. With these tips, you’ll save yourself from blistering, hot-to-the-touch skin that leaves you uncomfortable, restless and unhappy. Now lather up and get outside!