Unless you’ve been living under a rock since 2005, you probably know a bit about safe sun. For instance, you know to avoid the tanning bed like the plague and that sunscreen should be applied daily. But if you’re anything like me all of the remaining sun protection information can get a bit confusing (I found myself wondering whether I could spray my clothes with sunscreen instead of my skin the other day, no). Now that the weather is FINALLY getting warm and sunny, I figured now would be a good time to fill in the blanks of safe sun.
Here’s the deal
Not to sound like a mom at the beach (let me swim in peace!) but the sun is bad for you! UV rays cause premature aging like sun spots, wrinkles, dry/dull skin, and worst of all skin cancer. Here’s a fun fact: repeated sun exposure, even 15 minutes a day, can add up to equal or worse than a day at the beach and cause lines and spots in a matter of months! So next time you’re tempted to skip your morning sunscreen think about the skin damage laying just around the corner.
What you need
Since the sun produces two types of ultraviolet rays (both with their own set of negatives), your best defense is choosing a sunscreen offering UVA/UVB protection. The SPF recommendation by the American Academy of Dermatology is 30, you’ll want to use at least a nickle-sized portion for your face, and a shot-glass sized one for your body. Its also important to remember sunscreens come in two styles: physical which sit on the skins surface and block and deflect rays, and chemical which sink into the skin and absorb rays (This chart is amazing for choosing your type). If you choose a chemical sunblock you’ll want to wait at least 30 minutes before stepping outside as it takes time to sink into your skin.
Now for some fun questions you might have but might not want to ask.
Q: My makeup has SPF 30, do I have to use a separate sunscreen?
Maybe. Makeup with SPF works but only if you apply enough. If you’re someone who likes to go Au Natural you may not feel comfortable using the recommended nickle sized amount of foundation needed to get your SPF coverage. It may be best to apply a sunblock specifically formulated for your face followed by your favorite foundation. If you’re set on sticking to one product try a BB of CC cream with SPF 30 or more as they go on lighter and can typically be layered. And sorry, but using a sunscreen with SPF 30 followed by a foundation with SPF 15 doesn’t mean you have a SPF of 45, you cant add SPF levels.
Q: I have freckles and/or moles… am I at a higher risk for skin cancer?
Freckles and moles do not up your odds for skin cancer. However, freckles can be associated with fair skin which is usually due to a lack of melanin. This means you’re especially likely to burn so going without sunblock can lead to sunburn (which upps your odds for cancer way up). As for moles, contrary to popular belief, having more doesn’t necessarily mean you’re at an increased risk for cancer. In fact, people with more moles were found to be more likely to see a dermatologist and catch cancer early as opposed to those with few moles. At the end of the day any mole can evolve into melanoma and your genetic and environmental factors play a large role, so always use sunscreen regardless.
Q: I’m going to be in the sun and don’t want to burn so I’ll get a base tan. Is that OK?
Unfortunately, no. Any change in skin color means you are accruing damage so a base tan isn’t really safe at all. If you are going to be in the sun, in an area that gets more sun, are going to be in the water, really any reason you fear you’ll burn, it’s best to chose a higher SPF than usual and reapply more often than you think is necessary.
Q: What’s the deal with sun protecting clothing? What about shampoos with SPF?
Clothes with UPF (Ultraviolet Protective Factor) can block how many of the suns rays get through. The tightness of the weave, the weight, type of fiber, color and amount of skin covered all affect the amount of protection they provide. They can make a huge difference and are worth buying if you spend a lot of time outdoors (or plan to). More good news: shampoos, sprays, and leave-in conditioners can also protect you from the sun. Your part is especially susceptible to sun damage as it’s the part of your body nearest to the sun and usually overlooked when checking for cancerous spots. What’s more is the sun can zap moisture out of strands and even affect hair color as the suns rays bleach natural and artificial hair pigments. Hair products specifically made to protect strands from the sun help protect your scalp and hair from the inside and out.
Q: When does sunscreen expire?
So you found a bottle of sunscreen from last summer? Good news is the FDA requires that all sunscreens retain their original strength for at least three years so you should be safe. You also can look for visible signs that the sunscreen may no longer be good. Any obvious changes in the color or consistency of the product mean it’s time to purchase a new bottle.
Q: Which is better, spray or cream sunscreens?
While a spray form of sunscreen is often viewed as more convenient since it reaches hard to reach areas, most experts say creams offer better coverage and are more likely to be used properly. It’s also important to note that spray sunscreens have recently gotten a bad rap for possible lung damage when accidentally inhaled. Currently this claim is being investigated, but for safety spray outdoors.
That’s all for now loves,
Any additional sunscreen questions? Leave it in the comments & I’d love to answer.