Sun damage is no joke. Aside from accelerating signs of ageing, unprotected exposure to UV rays results in free radical damage that reduces skin elasticity and collagen production. Pigmentation or dark spots are also a common result, which is often overlooked until it’s too late. In worst case scenarios, it can also lead to skin cancer (gulp).
Even if you’re in your 20s and haven’t noticed blotches on your face, there’s a high chance spots are already forming beneath the surface of your skin. And in any case, prevention is better than cure. So here are a number of common misconceptions or mistakes that can compromise your sun protection.
#1 Thinking cloudy days don’t require sunscreen
The sun is doing its damage, even on cloudy or rainy days when you can’t feel the heat on your skin. UV radiation is not visible to our human eyes, and can penetrate clouds, haze, and even windows. Whether it’s overcast or you’re staying indoors and have a house with access to natural light, sunscreen is a must.
#2 Forgetting to reapply it regularly
A single sunscreen application is never enough if you’re going to be outdoors for more than a couple of hours. The active ingredients in sunscreen that protect your skin break down over time, so reapplying your sunblock is the best way to ensure your skin is constantly protected.
The most common problem we have when working in an office is heading out to lunch without reapplying sunscreen for fear of it messing up our makeup. But reapplication before lunchtime is crucial as it’s been at least three or four hours since you first applied your sunscreen. Opt for an mist-type product to keep your makeup intact.
#3 Relying on the SPF protection in your makeup
Makeup rarely has sufficient protection in it to begin with, but seeing as you never want to cake on your makeup in heavy layers, there’s probably less coverage than promised on the bottle by the time your makeup is blended out. And there’s also the issue of sweating off your makeup and what little coverage is on your face. There are plenty of lightweight sunscreen options that won’t feel heavy beneath makeup, and some of them even double up as a makeup base that helps your foundation go on smoother.
#4 Forgoing sunscreen because it irritates your skin
If the sunscreen you’re using is irritating your skin or if you find yourself breaking out in itchy painful rashes, you should definitely ditch that particular product. Instead, look for a physical sunscreen which is less likely to irritate your skin; anything that’s mineral-based or has zinc oxide or titanium dioxide on the label is a physical sunscreen. The brand Coola has some great mineral sunscreens, as does La Roche-Posay, both of which are meant for sensitive skin.
#5 Using an old tube of sunscreen
Active ingredients in sunscreen deteriorate over time. This means the longer you keep that tube of sunscreen, the less effective it’ll be. Plus, an open product is more likely to become contaminated with germs, as preservatives lose their efficacy over time. As with most cosmetic products, heat can also hamper the effectiveness of sunscreen. The takeaway: Store your sunscreens in a cool, dry place, and pay attention to their lifespan. If you have trouble remembering when you opened something, write the date down on your tube or log it in a notebook or a note on your phone.
#6 Relying on high SPF values for coverage
We used to think that the higher the SPF value, the more powerful a sunscreen. After all, the higher the value, the more time we can spend out in the sun and the less we need to worry about the burning caused by UVB rays, right? Wrong. In reality, the difference is marginal. SPF50 is recommended if you’re going to be in direct sunlight, but it’s still much better to reapply sunscreen instead of depending on its SPF value.
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