Sunscreen is one of the only ways to prevent skin damage (aside from wearing extra layers of clothing or by avoiding the sun altogether). You probably have the best intentions with your sunscreen – you purchase a quality brand, one with high SPF, and apply every day. But is there more to sunscreen that you’re missing?
Here are the top 8 most common mistakes that you make with sunscreen.
Mistake 0: You’re not wearing sunscreen.
Honestly, this is “mistake 0” because it’s obviously a mistake if you don’t wear any sunscreen! The sun provides needed vitamins, but it can also damage your skin. Avoid skin cancer, sunburn, pigmentation, or freckles by wearing sunscreen. Even daily use of a 15 SPF sunscreen is more effective than sporadic use every once in a while (like when you go to the pool or do yard work).
Mistake 1: You don’t use enough and you don’t apply it everywhere.
The recommended application rates on a bottle of sunscreen aren’t random numbers that an isolated scientist picked in a lab. Those parameters are calculated based on real measurements and experiments.
For most sunscreens, you need to apply roughly 2 mg of sunscreen per square centimeter, which is equivalent to 1 ounce for the average adult body. Yep, that’s a lot of sunscreen. One research study showed that not using the suggested amount of sunscreen reduced its effectiveness by 50-80%.
Keep in mind you should liberally apply your sunscreen to every part of your skin that is exposed to the sunshine. Nothing is worse than discovering you forgot to apply your lotion over one part of your body, leaving an awkward shaped burn. But hey, at least you can tell that your sunscreen is effective!
Tip: Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your ears, hair part, top of your feet, or back of your hands.
Mistake 2: Your SPF is too low.
Daily wear of 15 SPF is advised by most dermatologists and doctors. However, aim to find products that are closer to 30 SPF if you spend a decent amount of time in the sun, have a family history or skin cancer, or tend to be more sensitive to the rays (aka have fairer skin). As mentioned in mistake 1, apply generously with the highest SPF products you can find!
Mistake 3: Your sunscreen doesn’t offer full UVA/UVB protection.
Make sure that you sunscreen will actually protect your skin from all forms of UV rays – both UVA and UVB. The US FDA guidelines recently refined how sunscreen manufacturers label their products, but sometimes ones that read “broad spectrum” don’t actually cover all UV rays.
Use this helpful chart from 15 Minute Beauty to know which ingredients cover which UV rays.
Mistake 4: You don’t reapply your sunscreen.
Did you know that most sunscreens change once they interact with the sun’s rays? The sunscreen causes the UV radiation to bounce off of your skin, which eventually deactivates the active ingredients. Plus, we all sweat in the summer (no shame). And our perspiration causes the sunscreen to slowly melt off of our face. That is why reapplication is so essential, and why this is one of the most commonly made mistakes with sunscreen!
If you follow the recommended application rate mentioned in mistake 1, then you should apply 1 oz of sunscreen every 2 hours. (Hint: that large bottle of sunscreen you use should not last you all summer, or even the length of your beach vacation!)
Mistake 5: You believe the label that says it’s waterproof or sweatproof.
We just mentioned being sweaty in the summertime. Do we even need to mention afternoons spent at the pool, weekends at the beach, or a trip to the lake? You’re likely around water as well!
But don’t be fooled by those tricky sunscreen labels. Waterproof and sweatproof aren’t true descriptions of those products. After you get wet (from either sweat or water), sunscreen should be reapplied. (And done so liberally.)
Mistake 6: You don’t apply early enough.
Remember how sunscreen chemically changes after it interacts with the sunshine? It takes 15-30 minutes for your sunscreen to be absorbed by your skin and to prepare its defense for the sun’s offensive attack. Apply before you enter the sun. And if you’re reapplying, at least do so in the shade so it has a chance to settle into your skin before getting to work reflecting UVA and UVB rays.
Mistake 7: You rely on makeup with SPF to be your primary source of sunscreen.
Although makeup do contain SPF, you’re likely not benefiting fully from it’s defense. You would need to apply the same amount of liquid foundation with SPF as you would sunscreen (2 mg per 1 square centimeter). That’s roughly 1 teaspoon for your entire face. More than likely, you’re not using that much makeup!
We suggest using a generous portion of a daily SPF lotion as a primer under your makeup. Any extra coverage that your makeup provides is just bonus.
Mistake 8: You forget to protect your lips!
Your lips can burn just like your skin. They need the same level of protection! You can apply sunscreen lotion to your lips, but it takes awful and really shouldn’t be ingested. Opt for a chapstick that has SPF coverage. As always, apply liberally and frequently.
After all, don’t you want smooth, nourished lips to kiss your babies and your hubby? No thank you for chapped, burned, or cracked lips!
Turn your sunscreen mistakes into healthy skin habits
You now have no excuse to forget about sunscreen! Protect your radiant skin and luscious lips from the sun while still getting to enjoy the great outdoors. Start today by simply using a daily face lotion with SPF. When you go to the pool or beach, set an alarm on your phone for every 2 hours, reminding your to reapply. And stock up on sunscreen so you’re never without it this season!
Read more about protecting your skin: