The Right Way to Wear Sunscreen
One day as I look at myself in the mirror and saw some fine lines just below my eyes, I’m suddenly worried about looking old beyond my age. I’m not Paris Hilton-vain but I’d very much like to keep that youthful glow for a couple more years before life can get too serious.
This has led me to research more about the causes of wrinkles, and most of the information I’ve scoured strongly blames the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays as the major agent that speeds up the aging process. Having grown up and lived in a tropical country, it’s quite ironic how I often overlook the sun and attributed it entirely on something more obvious like--stress from work, difficult people, messy situations, bad food choices, sleepless nights and cheap beauty fixes.
Dermatologists confirmed that exposure to the sun can definitely accelerate premature aging and putting you at risk of skin cancer. It won’t happen overnight, especially when you’re young but will evidently occur later in life if you don’t do something about it. They recommend wearing sunscreen as your best defense against wrinkles and other skin-related conditions. So now I’ve made a conscious effort to take care of my skin by wearing good amount of sunscreen as part of my daily beauty regimen.
Many are surprised why they still get sunburned even if they’re using sunscreen. This might be because they’re not applying enough before going outdoors. I’m going to share to you some of the best advice I’ve received when using sunscreen.
What does SPF Stand for?
SPF means Sun Protection Factor. It tells you the amount of protection against UV radiation. So, the higher the SPF, the better protection you get from your sunscreen. To know the amount of SPF you need would depend on certain factors such as skin type, nature of the activities, location and weather condition. If your skin normally burns within 10 minutes under the sun, applying SPF 15 sunscreen could extend the protection for up to 150 minutes before your skin would burn. Within this timeframe, you should be able to reapply your sunscreen for an extended protection.
A typical sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher is recommended for sufficient protection against UVA (causes skin wrinkling) and UVB (causes reddening and sunburn). Choose a sunscreen that’s labeled “broad-spectrum” with blocking ingredients like Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Avobenzone and Mexoryl.
Tips when Wearing Sunscreen
Wear it everyday. Yes, you read it, everyday. Not just during summer but you need to apply it even when it’s raining or when staying indoors as UVA rays can still penetrate through clouds and glass. In my case, I make it as part of my daily morning routine after I take a shower. In that way, I make it seem like a natural habit as brushing my teeth.
Apply sunscreen first before anything else. It must be the first thing you need to apply on a clean, bare skin for it to really work. Skin experts believe that applying other skin products (like moisturizer) first may dilute the sunscreen or give an uneven layer on the skin which might not be enough to shield against the sun’s rays.
Apply it to all exposed parts. Wear sunscreen not just on your face, but to all exposed body parts such as the ears, neck (also the back of the neck), lips and hands. For the lips, you can wear a lip balm with SPF 15 before wearing your favorite lipstick.
Don’t skimp. Some people my age (I’m in my late 20s, btw) would ditch the sunscreen and spend more on those fancy anti-aging creams which doesn’t do anyone good. Really, you need to listen to skin experts advocating the use of sunscreen more than any other skin products. Don’t be too stingy on your sunscreen and apply them generously all over your exposed skin everyday.
The 20-30 minute rule. Apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before heading outdoors. That’s about the time it takes for it to soak into your skin and activates the chemical reaction to form a protective layer. Reapply every two hours if you’ll be spending most of the time outdoors but if you’ll be staying indoors the entire day, you don’t have to reapply as the sunscreen will remain intact the entire time.
To remove sunscreen, use an oil-based cleanser. Essentially, all sunscreen filtering ingredients are oil-soluble, so you can’t easily get rid of it with water. To remove them completely, it’s best to use oil-based cleansers or cleansing oils.
Choosing the best sunscreen is a matter of choice. There are a lot of sunscreens to choose from which are available in cream, gel spray, wax sticks, and lotion forms. Cream is recommended for those with dry skin, gel is good for hairy areas like arms and legs, wax sticks is ideal to use around the eyes and sprays are convenient to use on children. Since I’m not really an outdoor type of person, using a sunscreen with moisturizer is good enough for me BUT if you’re planning on soaking under the sun for long hours, use those in creams or gel. If you have acne problems, better use the oil-free or non-comodegenic variety.
Look for the expiration date. This is a no-brainer, actually. You need to throw out a sunscreen (or any product for that matter) way passed its expiration date. It’s a fact that sunscreen’s efficacy remains for about three years but if you had it that long, maybe you’re not really using them that much, if at all. A typical 200 ml sunscreen would last me 30 days so a bottle of sunscreen shouldn’t take you 3 years to consume.
With all these things in mind, there’s enough reason for all of us to still enjoy frolicking under the sun without having to fret about getting sunburned or all wrinkled up like a raisin in our 30s. All it takes is the discipline and commitment to wear them everyday and you’ll surely extend that youthful glow for many more years to come!
Even Baz Luhrmann couldn't agree more with his Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen music video. He also shared a dose of other valuable life lessons that's worth noting.