Whether you’re diligent about sun protection or you’re guilty of skipping the sunscreen from time to time, it pays to have a few tricks up your sleeve when it comes to defending your skin. Find out how you can be smarter about your sunscreen habits with these five easy tips.
Don’t let sun protection become a dreaded chore. In this article, you’ll learn how to take advantage of antioxidants, skin-boosting oral supplements and easy on-the-go products. Also, find out how to maximize the effectiveness of your sunscreen and learn why sun-protective clothing can make your life a little easier.
- Double up on sun protection. Antioxidants boast both protective and reparative properties. Dermatologist Mary H. Lien, a melanoma specialist at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa, tells Real Simple: “Studies have shown that when you wear sunscreen combined with topical antioxidants, like vitamin C, you can reverse signs of sun damage you already have.” When looking for a topical antioxidant product, you have numerous options. If you have fairly healthy skin and just want a protective product, try Caudalie Pulpe Vitaminée Anti-Wrinkle Fluid. Concerned with issues like hyperpigmentation and wrinkles? Try a reparative antioxidant serum like VIVITE Daily Antioxidant Facial Serum.
- Take your vitamins. It’s time to start thinking about protecting skin from the inside out. Allure recommends Heliocare supplements, which are a great way to give your daily SPF products a boost; these capsules contain a potent ingredient called Polypodium leucotomos (which is extracted from ferns). Heliocare reduces damage to the skin, fights free radicals and even helps with after-sun effects like redness. Oral supplements are a great choice if you’re going on a sunny vacation or a camping trip where you’ll be in the sun for most of the day, but always use your sunscreen too!
For a cheaper, more everyday option, Lien recommends taking 1,000 milligrams of a vitamin C supplement. “It boosts the immune system overall and helps keep my skin looking young,” she says.
- Reapply! If you diligently apply that SPF 70 every morning, you’re set for the day, right? Unfortunately, even the highest SPF products need to be reapplied throughout the day, especially if you’re out all day swimming, playing sports or just lounging by the pool. Luckily, there are plenty of options for sun protection on the go. Lien prefers a spray like Coppertone Kids Sunscreen, Clear Continuous Spray, SPF 70, which works even on sandy skin (great for kids!). However, a lotion-based SPF product is still best for that first application, as “sprays don’t always offer adequate, even coverage, and because the wind can carry them away,” Real Simple explains.
Other options include Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Powerful Sun Protection SPF 30 Towelettes, which are perfect for tossing in a beach bag. For touching up sun protection on the face, try a mineral makeup formula like Colorescience Sunforgettable SPF 30 Brush Perfectly Clear, which comes in a convenient tube with a brush-on applicator.
- Use your sunscreen correctly. Sometimes, better sun protection isn’t a matter of pricier products or reapplying five times a day – many people don’t get the full benefits from their SPF products because they simply don’t use them correctly. Here are a few quick tips:
Show your sun-safe fashion sense. Hate spending all that time applying sunscreen? Make your life a little easier with clothing that’ll protect you from the sun. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends “loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts and long pants made from tightly woven fabric,” as well as a wide-brimmed canvas hat, or a baseball cap (but you’ll still need sunscreen on your ears and neck).
- Apply sunscreen before heading outside. Sunscreen needs time to soak into your skin before it starts working – about 20-30 minutes. So before you get dressed, take the time to carefully apply sunscreen anywhere your skin will be exposed during the day. By the time you’re ready to head out the door, your sunscreen will be ready, too. Plus, as dermatologist Jeannette Graf tells Allure: "Working around your clothes will make you more likely to miss a spot."
- Don’t skimp on the sunscreen. Another common mistake people make is not using enough sunscreen to fully protect their skin. For the body, you’ll need about one ounce of sunscreen (think about a shot glass full of product). For the face, you’ll need one teaspoon. A good approach is to consider how many ounces are in your container; for example, a five-ounce bottle of sunscreen should be good for five trips to the beach.
If you’ve been applying less because you’re worried about using up that pricey new sunscreen too quickly, look for a more budget-friendly option that you won’t hesitate slathering on. Try Ocean Potion Suncare Anti-Aging Quick Dry Sunscreen or Banana Boat Sport Performance Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Lotion, both $7.99 for an 8-ounce bottle – that’s a dollar an ounce!
However, keep in mind that you can still get burned if you’re out all day – according to the CDC, a T-shirt only has an SPF of 15. If you’ll be out longer, invest in clothing with a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating. Check out your local outdoors store or look online.
Protecting your skin from the sun this season shouldn’t be a hassle or a headache. Oral supplements, topical antioxidants and sun-protective clothing are all great ways to ensure your skin is protected from the sun and boost your ordinary sunscreen’s effectiveness. And sometimes, the key isn’t in the products that you buy or the money you spend, but in being smarter about sun safety, so take the time to learn the best ways to actually use that bottle of sunscreen!
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