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Sunscreen: Not Just For Laying in the Sun

Naaila Khan

I’m going to be honest – up until quite recently, I didn’t really bother with sunscreen. I figured as long as I used some when I went swimming or to the beach I’d be fine – besides, you know how it goes, you come from a minimalist school of thought, beauty wise – splash some water on your face and you’re done – and you secretly think that your skin is invincible.

Which is great; a girl needs to have her head in the clouds sometimes – it’s good for the soul and the skin. Take a moment though, like I did to realise that ignorance isn’t always bliss, especially when a failure to protect your skin from the sun at all times could (and often does) lead to:

- accelerated aging, hyperpigmentation, sunburns and freckles, and

- melanoma, the deadliest, most common from of cancer among 25 – 29-year-olds.

That should give you plenty reason to reconsider skipping the sunscreen on a daily basis, regardless of where you are or what you’re doing.

Here are a few things to remember the next time you’re slathering yourself in the stuff.

1/7 More is more

This isn’t a moisturiser, it’s sunscreen. And if you want it to do its job, you have to use enough. As a rule of thumb for an average-sized person, a teaspoonful on the face and a shot glass’ worth to cover the entire body should suffice.

When in doubt, add more – there’s no such thing as too much sunscreen.

And don’t be afraid to reapply. A good sunscreen will last in the sun for a maximum of two hours, sweating and swimming time not included. Pointer: The lighter skinned you are, the more frequently you must apply. So slather it on!

2/7 No junk in the trunk, please

Remember that tube of sunscreen you dumped in your trunk after you went swimming two summers ago? Yeah, it’s best you forget about that one. It’s surprising how mnay people overlook the expiration date and ignore storage conditions – ironic though it sounds, exposing the packaging to hot temperatures reduces its effectiveness.

The active ingredients in sunscreen deteriorate over a period of time, making it way less potent, and making it a breeding ground for germs. Do you really want that for your skin? Just check the old stuff!

3/7 Be a sunscreen junkie

Just because you remember to put some on on a hot day or before going to the beach doesn’t make you a responsible user – you’re a repeat offender every time you don’t apply.

Remember, UV rays cut through clouds and glass right to your unsuspecting skin, even when it’s not sunny out. Just because you can’t see the damage doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

4/7 The real dope on SPF

This is super important. Most sunscreens being at SPF 15 but dermatologists will tell you that if you want yours to be effective, it’s got to be SPF 30 or above. But does SPF 60 mean double the protection or time in the sun? Nope!

Turns out that while a generous amount of SPF 30 will fight real hard for you, as you increase the SPF past 50, the percentage of protection increases only slightly. So if you really want the crazy high SPFs go for it, but don’t forget to reapply regardless.

5/7 The deets on UVB and UVA

So there are three skin enemies your sunblock should protect you from- UVB, UVA I and UVA II. Unfortunately, most sunscreens only give you UVB spectrum coverage, and that’s just saving your skin from burning. It’s the UVA rays that you should be weary of since they’re the silent troublemakers that affect your DNA, cause spots (skin cancer alert!) and early aging, and make your skin uneven and less glorious.

If you want to fight all these bad guys in one shot (or application), make sure your sunscreen constinas zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and clearly states that it offers broad spectrum coverage.

6/7 SPF in your makeup: just a bonus

Life might seem all moonlight and roses when you see that your favourite foundation contains a bit of SPF, but it’s not enough. You’d have to really pile the makeup on to get the adequate sun protection you need, so you should still be wearing a sunscreen under your makeup.

7/7 Honey, you missed a spot

The next time you’re gearing up for the sand and surf, remember, first sunscreen, thenbathing suit / board shorts. We’ve all had days when we’re back from the beach with major tanlines and you promise yourself you won’t forget – until you do.

Make a mental checklist of all the nooks to cover – eyelids, nose, lips (lip cancer – it exists), tips of the ears, your entire back (a spray works best here), back of the arms, knees and ankles.


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