With spring around the corner (and hopefully an end to this pandemic), we’re setting our sights on summer. But with warmer weather and fun in the sun comes the increased risk of UV ray exposure and damage to our skin. After all the hard work we put into perfecting our skin care routines over the winter, it would be a shame to see it all go to waste from a few carefree days at the beach!
Now, we all know the sunscreen basics: SPF prevents sunburn, sun damage, and skin cancer. But there’s more to sunscreen than you may think. We gathered up the most important, and unexpected facts, we could find about sunscreen: all the benefits, how to choose the best one for you, and when to use it. Read on to learn more about all things SPF:
Other Benefits of Sunscreen
- Now, we know that sunscreen is designed to reduce your risk of skin cancer. But does it prevent the three main types of skin cancer? Yes! According to Dr. Jennifer Lin, an assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School, “there are excellent studies that sunscreen protects against all three of the most common skin cancers: squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma.” In fact, Lin says that in some studies, “the incidence of squamous cell carcinoma is reduced as much as 40% over four years.”
If the fear of sunburn and skin cancer isn’t enough to sway you to lotion up, maybe the promise of younger looking skin will? Sunscreen is famous for preventing premature aging and shielding your skin from any extra wrinkles and fine lines. Studies show that people under the age of 55 who diligently used sunscreen had a 24% less chance of developing these aging signs than those who did not.
- Sunscreen also prevents hyperpigmentation, redness, and blotchy-looking skin. This look of uneven discoloration can be hereditary, but it’s also caused by sun damage. Avoid dark spots and redness by applying sunscreen every day.
How to Use Sunscreen Correctly
- Maybe you’re a diligent sunscreen-wearer, but did you know that most people are using far less than the recommended amount? Dermatologists recommend you use the “Teaspoon and Shot Glass Rule” to apply the correct amount. Use about one teaspoonful of sunscreen for the face, and a full shot glass-sized amount for the body.
- Remember, sunscreen alone isn’t enough to protect you from the sun. According to Dr. Lin, “many studies have demonstrated that individuals who use sunscreen tend to stay out in the sun for a longer period of time, and thus may actually increase their risk of skin cancer.” Remember to wear protective clothing and a hat, and sit in the shade, to truly protect yourself from sun damage.
- No sunscreen is truly waterproof or sweatproof. Products are now labeled as “water resistant” and “very water resistant”, which is basically all to say, you still need to reapply every two hours, after getting out of the water, or after sweating.
Did you know sunscreen expires? In the United States, the FDA requires all sunscreens to retain their original strength for at least three years and many sunscreens include an expiration date printed on the label. Check your labels often to remember to purchase a new bottle at the start of each summer to be safe.
- You can now find SPF in both your makeup and your moisturizer! For an easy way to get some extra sun protection in your daily routine, look for foundations, powders, moisturizers, and even eyeshadows that include SPF.
How to Pick the Best Sunscreen for You
There are two main considerations to look at when purchasing a sunscreen. Is it broad spectrum and does it have at least an SPF of 30?
Broad spectrum sunscreens are best because they protect us from two types of harmful rays: UVA rays, which cause premature aging of the skin, and UVB rays, which cause sunburns. Overexposure to both types of rays can cause skin cancer, so go for a sunscreen labeled as “broad spectrum” to protect you from both types of harmful rays.
- Look for sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. SPF (sun protection factor) indicates how much protection from UV rays the product offers and sunscreens with an SPF of at least 30 block 97% of the sun’s rays.
Otherwise, the most important thing to consider is that you like it and you’ll use it! The best sunscreen is the one that works for you.
When to Use Sunscreen
We all know to wear sunscreen for long days at the beach and lazy hangs poolside, but sunscreen should become a staple in your routine, no matter the weather. Here are a few other situations in which you should wear sunscreen:
- During winter
- On cloudy days
- At high altitudes
- When wearing thin clothing