Ah, the summer sun! It feels so nice and warm. It’s easy to give in to its charms and forget how sinister it can be (skin cancer, anyone?). Before you head outside this summer, make sure you don’t make these common sunscreen mistakes.
Using Too Much SPF
Obviously products with higher SPF will protect your skin better, right? Right?! Well, not exactly. There is no real harm in using products with high SPF 40 and above, but they aren’t really necessary, either. The truth is that SPF 30, when applied correctly (read on!), will block just about 100 percent of the sun’s harmful rays. You don’t need to go any higher than SPF 30.
Being Too Stingy
Sunscreen is not something that should be applied lightly. It’s not like regular lotion that can spread well and will work just as long as your skin feels a little bit softer. And you may want to save and stretch that bottle now, but you’ll be paying later with damaged skin. Apply sunscreen very generously. Too much is better than too little when it comes to protecting your skin.
Not Reapplying Enough
When you’re spending hours in the sun, you can’t just put on sunscreen in the morning and forget about it for the rest of the day. Sunscreen does need to be reapplied every three hours. If you have very fair skin, reapply every one or two hours. If you get wet, you should reapply after. Even if your sunscreen is waterproof, you should still reapply after more than just a short dip in the water.
It’s not easy to hide from the sun’s rays. Unless your skin is underneath thick clothing, it will still be exposed to the sun. If you neglect to cover every inch of your body, you may experience sunburn in weird places. Some of the places people most commonly forget to lotion up are their ears, toes and tops of the feet, hands, lips, scalp, and neck. If you don’t get a friend to lotion your back, you’re more prone to miss spots there, too, so be careful and as thorough as you can.
Using Last Year’s Bottle
You bought a bottle of sunscreen at the end of the summer last year when you took that Labor Day vacation to the lake. You didn’t use all of it in one weekend, so you stashed it in your cabinet to use next summer. Stop right there! Do not use those leftovers last year. Once opened, sunscreen loses its effectiveness after six months. Unless you took an early spring trip to the Caribbean, any sunscreen you own that isn’t brand new should be tossed at the start of the summer and replaced.
The worst mistake you can possibly make – and one that people make all the time, only to regret years later – is skipping sunscreen altogether. It doesn’t matter if you have a skin type that never burns (lucky you), or if you’re not out in the sun very often. You should always – yes, always – apply sunscreen when outdoors. (Hint: That means in the winter, too!)
Elizabeth Green is a beauty expert and mother who understands the challenges of keeping the whole family protected from the sun. She often blogs and covers anything from parenting advice to getting great deals on cosmetic brushes.
Photo Credit: Jessica Wilzig