7 Sunscreen Mistakes That Hurt Your Skin

7 Sunscreen Mistakes That Hurt Your Skin

If you don’t apply sunscreen correctly, even the finest sunscreen won’t adequately safeguard you. To make sure you’re protected, use these suggestions.

One of the best things you can use to shield your skin from the heat is sunscreen. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a decent sunscreen with effective UVA and UVB blocking can prevent sunburn, delay the appearance of wrinkles and other symptoms of aging, and lower your chance of developing skin cancer (FDA). According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there are more than five million new instances of nonmelanoma skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) identified in the United States each year. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) advises using sunblock with an SPF of 30 or greater that is broad-spectrum, water-resistant, and has these features. Choosing a mineral sunscreen with zinc and titanium for daily use is advised by board-certified dermatologist Sandy Skotnicki, MD, founder head of Bay Dermatology Center in Toronto and author of Beyond Soap. According to Piedmont Healthcare, mineral sunscreens, also referred to as physical sunscreens, protect the skin from the sun’s rays and are typically less irritant and more moisturizing than chemical sunscreens, which work by soaking the rays and turning them to heat in the body.

Even though you’ve chosen the ideal container, your work is not yet finished. Too many applicants manage to muck up the process by leaving out crucial information, noting only the bare minimum, and more. Skin cancer is the most severe consequence of not wearing sunblock, but that is not the only cause to do so. Sunburns can cause skin to appear aged, more wrinkly, dehydrated, discolored, and leathery because they harm the skin’s blood vessels and cells. According to Dr. Skotnicki, the sun’s aging effects are a major factor in the importance of vigilant sunblock use. According to numerous large studies, using sunblock regularly can slow the signs of photoaging, such as redness, brown spots, and creases, over time. For instance, in a previous study, researchers discovered that about 80% of the obvious symptoms of aging on the skin are caused by UV radiation.

Here, doctors discuss the most common sunblock mistakes people make and how to prevent them.

1. You Wait Until You’re Already at the Beach to Apply Sunscreen

Expect to appear like a lobster when you get home if you apply sunblock while standing in ankle-deep sand. According to Miami dermatologist Leslie Baumann, MD, sunscreen needs to be applied at least 20 minutes before going outside because it takes that long for your skin to receive the protective components. Before getting clothed, spread it on as equally as you can to prevent missing areas.

2. You’re Too Stingy When Applying Your Sunscreen

It takes more than a tiny drop to achieve the claimed SPF. The majority of people apply too little sunscreen, which can result in lines and a reduced SPF, according to Skotnicki. The AAD recommends covering your entire body with at least 1 ounce (a shot tumbler full) of sunblock on beach days. There are hacks you can use if you’re not positive how that appears. One choice is Sunshotz, a compact sunblock measuring cup ($8.49, Sunshotz.com). (The product was created by board-certified dermatologist Ross Radusky, MD, an Everyday Health medical evaluator.) The Skin Cancer Society advises setting aside a sum equal to the size of a nickel for your skin.

3. You Miss Important Areas

There are a few places people frequently forget to apply sunscreen, despite the fact that it’s crucial to cover all skin that will be subjected to the sun. Nearly 20% of study participants failed to apply sunblock to their eyelids, and these participants were unaware that they had done so, according to a research that was released in April 2019 in the journal PLoS One. The epidermis on the eyelid has the greatest rate of skin cancer per unit area, which is concerning. Lips are another frequently overlooked region that is prone to injury because they contain relatively little melanin, the protective substance that gives skin, hair, and eyes their color. Lip balm or makeup with an SPF of 15 or greater is advised by the Skin Cancer Society. According to Doris Day, MD, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City, wearing lip gloss alone is a huge no-no. According to her, exposed skin is more easily penetrated by UV radiation the more hydrated your cheeks are. The Skin Cancer Foundation claims that glossy, wet lips draw harmful UV radiation. It is similar to applying infant oil to the epidermis.

4. You Don’t Bother to Reapply Your Sunscreen

According to an AAD study released in May 2021, only about 33% of Americans reapply sunblock as frequently as advised, leaving the skin exposed. “It’s not a magic potion that shields you eternally,” says Andrew Kaufman, MD, the medical head of the Center for Dermatology Care in Thousand Oaks, California, and a clinical assistant professor of medicine at UCLA School of Medicine in Los Angeles. The golden guideline is to reapply sunblock every two hours at the very least, and more frequently if you exercise vigorously or go swimming. Even “water resistant” sunscreens only retain their SPF for up to 80 minutes, according to FDA standards. (According to the FDA, the sticker on water-resistant sunscreens will indicate whether it remains useful for 40 minutes or 80 minutes in water.) Reapplying will also assist you in getting a more even distribution, according to Skotnicki.

5. You Don’t Spread Your Sunscreen Smoothly Enough

You won’t receive the protection guaranteed on the label if you don’t equally apply the sunscreen. To get the most coverage, pay careful attention as you apply and go over the exposed regions several times. This issue can be resolved with spray sunscreens that don’t require rubbing; just be careful when administering. Sprays, according to the AAD, are practical but it’s not always clear if you’ve filled all open areas. The Skin Cancer Society advises sprinkling until a sheen covers your entire body.

6. You Skip Sunscreen When It’s Cloudy

According to the AAD, 80% of the sun’s UV radiation still reach your epidermis even when it is not visible. And according to the AAD, only 20% of Americans use sunblock on overcast days. When you go outside, regardless of whether there is cloud cover, you should apply sunscreen because windows prevent UVB radiation but most let UVA rays through. “People have an inaccurate perception of how much light they receive. They are unaware that sunbathing doesn’t require lying on the sand, according to Dr. Kaufman. To remember you to use sunscreen every day, he suggests putting your sunblock directly next to your toothpaste.

7. You Ignore the Expiration Date

Have you consistently used the same sunblock container? Your epidermis might be in danger because of you. The FDA mandates a three-year shelf life for sunblock. Following that, it might not offer the level of security specified on the container. Before applying, check the expiration date, and if you can’t find one, presume it will terminate three years after the date of purchase. The AAD advises marking the container with the buy date so you can keep track.

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