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How To: Apply Sunscreen Like A Dermatologist

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We’re all bombarded with youth-preserving serums and wrinkle-erasing moisturizers and creams. It’s easy to forget the OG product when it comes to keeping your skin healthy and youthful: sunscreen.

 

The importance of sunscreen has been imprinted on all of us since we were little kids. Wear it. Every. Day. Don’t leave the house without it. Don’t forget to reapply. Yet, many of us still don’t fully grasp how to effectively protect ourselves from the sun—and the long-term damaging effects sun exposure can have on us.

 

So we went to the experts. Here are tips from some of the top dermatologists on how to properly and safely block UV rays.

1. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

First things first, you want to make sure the sunscreen you’re applying is a quality one. One factor in determining that is whether or not it’s broad spectrum. If it is, that means it will protect you from both UVB rays (the ones that cause sunburns) and UVA rays (the ones that lead to skin cancer, hyperpigmentation, and premature aging).

Next comes SPF. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and dermatologists unanimously recommend you use a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30. To understand SPF in relation to protection, it’s important to keep in mind the SPF scale is not linear:

  • SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
  • SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays
  • SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays

One way of looking at this is that SPF 30 sunscreen gives you 4% more protection than SPF 15. Or, a more technical way:

  • SPF 15 (93% protection) allows 7 out of 100 photons through
  • SPF 30 (97% protection) allows 3 out of 100 photons through.

So, while you may not actually be ‘doubling’ your level of protection, an SPF 30 will block half the radiation that an SPF 15 would let through to your skin. It’s a bit complicated, but to keep things simple: The higher the SPF—the higher the protection. And dermatologists suggest, at the bare minimum, using a sunscreen with at least SPF 30.

2. Don’t skip your face.

Unless you’re acne-prone, you can typically use the same sunscreen on your face as you do on your body. First off, you want to start with dry skin. This applies to the body, too. And, according to Shirley Chi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Southern California, you also want to wait a few minutes between applying your last skincare product before applying your SPF. 

One expert tip when applying to the face is to start from the center and then rub outwards into the hairline. The most commonly missed areas include the hairline, hair part, temples, neck, and ears. So, you want to give those spots some extra love and attention. 

Now, how much should we apply to the face? Dermatologists recommend applying about a nickel-sized dollop worth of sunscreen to your face alone. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind? Always use more than you think you need.

3. Reapply, reapply, reapply.

According to the FDA, no sunscreen is “sweat-proof” or “waterproof.” If you look at a sunscreen label, you’ll find they all say “water resistant” for an allotted amount of time—typically either 40 or 80 minutes. All Goddess Garden mineral sunscreens are water resistant for 80 minutes. So, if you’re out enjoying the water, be sure to reapply within the time frame outlined by the sunscreen you’re using.

Regardless of activities, a universal rule is to reapply at least every two hours. Otherwise, the SPF level becomes diluted. And the protection against those pesky rays weakens.

4. Lay it on thick.

According to Dr. Sandra Lee, “If you only apply half as much SPF 30 as you need, you’re really only getting SPF 15 protection. To cover your body, use the amount of product you’d need to fill a shot glass, and for your face, make a peace sign and draw lines of product over two of your fingers.”

For sunscreen sprays, spray each spot for at least two seconds and then rub it in with your hands. That last step is key. For sunscreen sticks, always apply two times in the area being treated.

In sum, be generous with your sunscreen application; not conservative.

5. Be (super) consistent. Like, everyday consistent.

Regardless of the weather or climate, wearing sunscreen every day is an absolute must. Even if you’re just walking to the subway. Incidental exposure can happen frequently, accidentally, and can add up quickly. Not to mention, “UVA rays can penetrate through clouds, rain and fog,” according to The Skin Cancer Foundation

And while sun damage during cloudy or wintry weather might not result in key indicators like sunburns, you will contribute to premature aging. In fact, studies in Australia followed the skin of people who used sunscreen daily alongside those who used it only when it was particularly sunny. The results? Those who applied sunscreen every single day had skin that aged significantly slower—24 percent less!

Goddess Garden makes applying sunscreen, well, easy.

Goddess Garden has been a pioneer in the mineral sunscreen space for nearly twenty years. Our formulas are broad-spectrum, all SPF 30+, vegan, gluten-free, chemical-free, and fully safe for ourselves as well as our planet.

   

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