According to a latest study by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, most Americans are not using sunscreen on a regular basis, which is maddening. With all the research done on what causes skin cancer and how crucial it is to apply at least SPF 30, there is still a much-too-relaxed approach to shielding our skin against harmful rays.
Here are some tips to protect yourself while still enjoying the summer sun.
There are many ways to protect your skin from sun damage—there is SPF in our moisturizers, in our BB and CC creams, and in our makeup—but sunscreen built in to our makeup is not enough. If you apply a regular non-SPF moisturizer to the face and then apply makeup with an SPF over it, the sunscreen in the makeup has a difficult time penetrating through. Additionally, if you apply makeup sparingly like many people, you will not get full sun protection.
I highly recommend using a sunscreen moisturizer directly on the skin first, and then applying foundation makeup with sunscreen or a SPF-infused mineral powder make-up. If you are going into direct sun (beach, hiking, skiing or the pool), you need to wear a sunscreen that is made for direct sun exposure.
Although the FDA regulates sunscreens, you should always make sure that your sunscreen is broad spectrum—meaning that it protects not only UVB (burn ray), but UVA (aging ray) as well.
Two important ingredients to look for in sunscreens are Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. Both are physical blocks containing inorganic compounds that are not absorbed into the skin; light is either absorbed into the sunscreen material or reflected away from the skin, similar to a mirror or aluminum foil. Sunscreens with physical blocks protect against both UVA and UVB because they are not absorbed into the skin, they are non-irritating and non-allergenic.
It takes 15 minutes or so for your skin to absorb sunscreen, so if you wait until you are in the sun, your unprotected skin may burn. Apply generously and, when swimming, re-apply every two hours.
Don’t stop short; apply sunscreen down to your neck, chest, and arms. Avoid the sun during peak hours, generally between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., which is prime time for exposure to damaging rays. Even on a cloudy day, 80% of the sun's ultraviolet rays pass through the clouds. Wear protective clothing whenever possible.
A product with SPF 30 offers only 4% more protection than SPF 15. And a product with SPF 45 offers just 2% more protection than SPF 30. High SPF number sunscreens like an SPF 50 or 100 can give people a false sense of protection. While I usually recommend a minimum of SPF 30, I would suggest that if you live in the northern part of the U.S. in the winter, a sunscreen with SPF 15 is fine. If you live in the southern part of the U.S., you would want to use a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 year-round.
About Kim Kelder: Kelder is lead aesthetician and skin care specialist at Miraval Resort & Spa. With over 18 years of experience, 13 of which have been spent at the award-winning, desert-based destination spa, Kim has a wealth of knowledge spanning from how to best protect oneself from the sun to selecting the most appropriate type of sunscreen.