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Summer might be over, but that doesn’t mean you can skip the SPF! Those nasty UV rays, which never stop hitting the earth even on the cloudiest of days, can cause dark spots, wrinkles, discoloration, and skin cancer. That’s why you should use sunscreen every day and year-round, no excuses! Moreover, it’s important to choose the right product and apply sunscreen properly. Here’s what you need to know about sunscreen:

FIND THE PERFECT SPF FOR YOU

Sunscreen formulas have improved a lot over the past few years, so if your SPF product feels sticky or gross, chances are you’re using the wrong one. Keep these tips in mind the next time you buy sunscreen:

Read the label. Make sure your bottle says “broad spectrum.” The SPF factor number only measures the level of protection from UVB rays, which are responsible for sunburn. UVA rays, which bring on early aging and are considered more dangerous in the long run, aren’t usually measured into the level of protection. A broad spectrum sunscreen protects you from both.

What’s a good SPF number? According to The American Academy of Dermatology, we should apply SPF 30 at minimum.

Hate the smell? Choose a formula for sensitive skin; they’re usually unscented.

SPF for acne-prone skin. If you’re prone to acne, stick to non-comedogenic and oil-free formulas. Also, avoid water resistant products. They can retain oils and clog pores. If your skin is more on the oily side, opt for roll-on SPF products because they’re usually lightweight. Or, pick a mattifying product.

Sunscreen vs. Sunblock

The highest level of protection comes from sunblock, not sunscreen. Sunscreen is formulated with chemical ingredients that absorb the rays before they can cause damage. Sunblock is mineral-based and works as a shield to block rays completely.

How do you distinguish sunscreen from sunblock? Again, read the labels.

What sunscreen contains: Avobenzone, Mexoryl SX and SL, oxybenzone, homosalate, octisalate and octocrylene.

What sunblock contains: Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Zinc oxide looks opaque when applied onto the skin, while titanium dioxide blends more easily. Micronized mineral formulas combine both ingredients and prevent you from looking chalky.

BEFORE Application

  • Try an antioxidant serum. Antioxidants like vitamin C or E help to neutralize the free radicals so they’re less likely to cause skin damage. Some SPF products contain niacinamide or green tea, which work as antioxidants as well.
  • Not into serums? Choose a moisturizer with Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer. They perform as microscopic hollow spheres that minimize the damage from UV rays.
  • Shake the bottle to mix all the particles and distribute the product evenly.

Extra tip: Never put your SPF on a wet face because the effect won’t be same.

How to apply sunscreen

Apply it evenly onto your whole face. This includes the hairline, above the lips, the nostrils, and ears. And oh, don’t forget your eyebrows. So yeah, basically cake it on. It’s the only way to ensure you’re obtaining the maximum level of protection from your sunscreen.

Don’t skip the eye area. You should use a soft formula for the eye area as a general rule. But if your eyes are extra sensitive and prone to irritation, then look for a product that’s specifically formulated for that area. You want to be gentle around the eyes, so apply it like an eye cream. Never rub too vigorously.

How much to apply? A teaspoon is enough to cover your face and neck. For your whole body, use the amount of a shot glass.

AFTER Application

  • Give your sunscreen about three minutes to set before putting on makeup. This can take a couple more minutes depending on the thickness of the product.
  • Double the coverage with a BB Cream or foundation with SPF, and seal in protection with SPF powder. Don’t rely on sun protection from cosmetics, which are not as effective as sunscreen or sunblock.
  • Wait 30 minutes before heading outside. Skin needs this much time to absorb the formula.

Don’t rule out sunscreen just because it’s fall. Protect yourself year-round!