This past weekend, I went to the beach for the first time in about two years. I was thrilled to be outside in the sun and to feel the sand in between my toes. I won’t lie: I really wanted to get some color because it’s been a while since I got a tan. I like being tan even though I know it’s not good for you. However, I’m really smart about my sun care and know what not to do.
I used sunscreen, reapplied and treated my skin afterwards. I’m a tiny bit red, but my skin still feels healthy because I made the right sun care moves. There are a lot of things that people don’t realize about sun care. A lot of my friends think you don’t need to reapply or think that because they “don’t usually burn” they’ll be find in the sun all day. Making those mistakes can be really dangerous and lead to skin cancer, which is something I’d like to avoid. Please don’t make these mistakes:
Not Using The Right Sunscreen
I know that sunscreens can be confusing. There are a lot of different kinds, and brands throw out words like "helioplex" and stuff. But you really need to be using a sunscreen that covers all the bases, so look for something that says "broad spectrum" and that protects you from both UVA AND UVB rays.
Doing Sunscreen Math
Using SPF 15 and SPF 20 does not equal SPF 35. That is not how sunscreen works. The number on SPF correlates with how long you can stay in the sun before you start burning. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, "If it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening 15 times longer — about five hours." Layering different levels of SPF does not increase the time you can stay out in the sun before burning. Dermatologists recommend that everyone use at least SPF 30.
Not Treating Your Skin After Being Out In The Sun
After-sun care is just as important as regular sun care! Being out in the sun, even with sunscreen on, dries out your skin, which is why you get that tight feeling when you've had prolonged sun exposure. Any time you've been out in the sun, make sure to follow up with aloe (especially if you got burned) and a moisturizer. It's also important to drink plenty of water because staying hydrated will help your skin heal as well.
Not Factoring In Your Medications
Have you ever taken a new antibiotic or other medication and gotten a sunburn out of nowhere? That's because a lot of medications can make you super sun sensitive. Always check medication to see if it will make you sensitive to the sun. If so, apply extra protection so that you don't get a nasty burn.
Applying Sunscreen When You're Already Outside
If you apply sunscreen while you're already outside, you're giving the sun a leg-up on your skin. For sunscreen to work properly and effectively, apply it at 20 minutes before you go outside!
Using The Same SPF On Your Face And Bod
Not all sunscreens are created equal. Don't go spraying that sport SPF all over your face. It's not formulated to go on your precious mug and will likely make you break out. Check out these sunscreens for your face that won't make you break out and keep the body sunscreen, well, on your body.
Skipping SPF If You Have Darker Skin
Just because you have darker skin does not mean you're invincible to the sun. One of my friends has really dark skin and actually said to me once, "I'm black so I don't need SPF." This couldn't be more wrong! You can still burn and are still susceptible to skin cancer, regardless of your skin color.
SPF does not last all day. One of the biggest mistakes people make is not reapplying their sunscreen. You should reapply every two hours (at least) and after getting in the water.
Not Using SPF When It's Cloudy
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say they don't need sunscreen on a cloudy day. The clouds do not protect you from harmful rays. In fact, depending on the type of cloud, it can actually increase sun damage. So just don't skip the SPF, kay?
This is a big one. It happened to me this past weekend! I was out in the sun all day and accidentally missed a spot when I was reapplying. Now I have this slightly darker patch on my leg that looks really weird. Make sure you're applying your SPF all over, even under where your swimsuit will be because if it shifts (which it will), you'll get a burn there.
Do you do any of the above? What other sun care mistakes can you think of? Tell us in the comments!