Skin Care Guide – Part 6
How to apply sunscreen correctly
Correct application of sunscreen is vital for its effectiveness, so if you care about avoiding sun damage, make sure you read and follow this guide diligently. But before we explain how to apply sunscreen correctly, there is one important thing we need to clarify – no sunscreen offers you a comprehensive protection from UV light, and the best way to avoid sun damage is to avoid direct sun exposure and wear protective clothing on most uncovered parts of your body (see our sun protection guidelines for the full list of protective measures).
With this in mind and assuming that you know how to choose sunscreen that is optimal for you, let’s describe the correct way of sunscreen application for maximum effectiveness and the best protection of your skin from detrimental effects of the sun rays.
Read instructions on the packaging and follow them precisely.
Sunscreens can be physical, chemical or a combination type, and they vary widely in composition. Therefore, the best way to apply a particular sunscreen is to follow the instructions given by the product manufacturer.
Apply sunscreen generously 20-30 minutes before sun exposure.
Most sunscreens have chemical ingredients which need time to interact with the skin and start protecting it. Thus you should apply sunscreen at least 20-30 min before you go out into the sun. Apply generously and use minimum 30 ml of the sunblock to cover your entire body. Physical sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, on the other hand, can be applied just before sun exposure.
Cover all exposed parts of your body.
Make sure you cover all exposed parts of your body including such “easy-to-forget” parts as ears, nose, fingers, toes and lips. For lips it’s best to use lip balm or lipstick with SPF >=15. If you have fine or thinning hair, you should also apply sunscreen to your scalp. For delicate parts such as face and under eye area you may want to use sunblocks specifically formulated for the facial skin. In addition to applying sunscreen to your eye area, you still need to wear UVA+UVB blocking sunglasses.
Reapply frequently and diligently.
Most skin care specialists recommend re-applying sunscreen every 2 hours under normal conditions and more frequently after swimming or bathing. There are two types of sunscreens resistant to water – ‘water resistant’ that can sustain up to 40 minutes of water exposure and ‘very water resistant’ that can maintain protection up to 80 minutes of water immersion. So depending on which of the 2 types you use, you should re-apply it with the specified frequency.
Also, there are clinical studies indicating that many sunscreen ingredients can degrade under the sun and lead to formation of free radicals causing premature skin aging. Therefore some experts argue that the optimal skin protection can be achieved by re-applying sunscreen every 20-30 minutes. No matter which guideline you stick to for re-applying your sunscreen (every 2 hours or every 20-30 minutes), bear in mind that sunscreen alone doesn’t offer you comprehensive protection, and you should follow other sun protection measures to avoid the damaging effects of the sun.
Filed under: Skin Care Guide
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