Ask any skincare junkie what their favorite step of their routine is and I guarantee the answer will be sunscreen! The benefits of sunscreen are so important and it’s without a doubt the most important step of everyone’s skincare routine.
Some of you might be rolling your eyes right now, and I get it! Sunscreen used to be super boring to me, too, and I went years without wearing it at all unless I was lounging by the beach or pool.
But I’m here to give you a little tough love: you can throw your entire routine in the trash if you don’t wear sunscreen.
Sunscreen is the key to healthy, glowy, youthful-looking skin and I wouldn’t be doing my job as a beauty blogger if I wasn’t constantly nagging people about wearing it (sry not sry).
In honor of skin cancer awareness month, today I’m making this guide to address some of my most asked questions about sunscreen!
There’s a lot to go over, so this will be a two-parter. Let’s jump in!
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What are these benefits of sunscreen I speak of…
Let’s just say sunscreen does it all:
- Sunscreen prevents sunburn (duh, we all know that)
- Sunscreen keeps your skin tone even and glowy. If you happen to be dealing with pigmentation or any of those post-acne dark spots, guess what: exposure to UV rays will actually make them darker.
- Sunscreen is the most important anti-aging product you’ll ever own. UV rays contribute to up to 80% of visible signs of aging. So sunscreen helps to prevent fine lines and wrinkles that can occur due to sun exposure.
- And, most importantly, SUNSCREEN SAVES LIVES by reducing your risk of skin cancer. This is the most important benefit of sunscreen.
Studies have shown that daily use of sunscreen can reduce your risk of melanoma by 50% and reduce your risk of squamous cell carcinoma by 40%. So sunscreen isn’t only about making your skin look amazing (although that’s certainly part of it!) sunscreen is also essential to your health.
Who should be wearing sunscreen?
Anyone and everyone. Period. End of story.
Skin cancer can affect anyone regardless of skin tone, ethnicity, age, or gender.
Sunscreen benefits everyone.
When should you use sunscreen?
You should wear sunscreen every. single. day.
Including when it’s raining or in the winter.
And yes, you should be wearing sunscreen indoors.
Why do you need sunscreen when it’s cloudy or when you’re inside?
You’re obviously not going to get sunburned when it’s rainy or when you’re sitting at your desk, so it might sound a little silly to wear sunscreen on these days. But, trust me, it’s not.
It all has to do with the sun’s UV rays. The sun emits three different types:
- UVA Rays are the ones that cause signs of aging and wrinkles, and they contribute to oxidative stress. UVA makes up more than 90% of UV radiation and can penetrate both clouds and glass (which is why it’s important to wear sunscreen in the winter, in the car, and even indoors if you have windows).
- UVB Rays are the ones that cause sunburn.
- UVC Rays mostly get absorbed by the ozone layer. So, luckily, we don’t have to think about these.
Both UVA and UVB rays have the potential to cause cancer.
How to apply sunscreen
Reading a “how-to” for applying sunscreen might sound silly but there is a correct way to apply sunscreen and improper use can significantly decrease the amount of protection you receive.
1. Apply sunscreen as the very last step of your skincare routine; 15-30 minutes before going outside.
If you wear makeup, your sunscreen should be applied a few minutes before your foundation.
2. You can only get the full benefits of your sunscreen if enough of it is applied.
If you look at the back of a sunscreen bottle, the directions will tell you to “apply liberally.”
This might seem kind of vague and it’s because, well, people come in different shapes and sizes. And if we’re talking strictly about faces – everyone has a different sized face.
As a guide, try to use around 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon for your face alone.
Another good trick is applying two lines of sunscreen down your middle and index fingers and using this amount on your face, neck, and ears.
Lastly, you’ll need about 1oz of sunscreen (a full shot glass) to protect your full body from head to toe.
3. Reapply at least every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating.
Reapply more often if you’re in direct sun – especially during the hours of 10am-3pm when the UV rays are at their strongest.
Reapplying is important because:
- Sunscreen can come off your face if you’re sweating, swimming, or if you touch your face.
- Sunscreen filters can slowly break down as you’re exposed to UV rays
- And, most people don’t apply enough sunscreen the first time. So reapplying ensures that you’ll eventually reach the proper amount of SPF to be covered.
4. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on these parts of your body that are often missed!
Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on your:
- Around your eyes (yes – you need sunscreen here!)
- Lips (an SPF lip balm can help with this)
- and your hands!
Sunscreen needs to be applied on every single part of exposed skin.
Other tips for protecting your skin from the effects of UV rays
- Opt for sunscreens that are SPF 30 or higher and are labeled “broad spectrum” (more on this in part 2).
- Make sure to use sunscreen every single day – yes, even in the winter or when it’s cloudy.
- Seek shade from 10am-4pm when the UV rays are strongest.
- Wear a hat and sunglasses.
- If possible, cover your skin with clothing if you’ll be in direct sun for an extended period of time.
Wondering how to choose a sunscreen?
I hope this post has given you a little more insight into the benefits of sunscreen and why you need to wear it every day! Keep an eye out for Part 2 next week! I’ll be going over:
- The difference between mineral/physical and chemical sunscreens
- Reef safe and ocean safe sunscreens
- SPF moisturizers
- And other things to look for when you choose a sunscreen!