How much SPF you actually need. I can’t believe how many misconceptions still exist when it comes to sunscreen and wearing it every single day and yes, that includes winter and rainy days. Look, I’m no angel when it comes to applying or even re-applying sunscreen, but I hate seeing new wrinkles or the occasional sunspot even more and I hate hearing my friends and acquaintances think that it’s okay to bake in the sun. Not to mention that as I get older, my tanning capabilities seem to be drastically diminishing, so I’m convinced that pretty soon my complexion will be as pale as they get and it will just stay that way. So, let’s talk sunscreen and why it’s so important and how much you should be wearing.
HOW MUCH SPF YOU ACTUALLY NEED
What to look for. Unfortunately, not all sunscreens are created equal and I admit to being extremely picky about what I put on my face. If it feels heavy or thick or even if I can feel it then it’s out. There are, however, certain ingredients that you should be looking for on the label.
- What’s the SPF. This seems pretty obvious, right? I’m still shocked, however, at how many people choose an SPF of 15. It doesn’t matter if you are spending the day outside or just in and out running errands, the minimum SPF you should be looking for is 30.
- Is it a broad-spectrum. Basically what this means is that you want a sunscreen that protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. The first is important because UVA rays (ultra violet A) penetrate deep into your skin causing wrinkles and sun spots (hyperpigmentation) aka, they make you look old. UVB (ultra violet B) rays, on the other hand, don’t penetrate as deeply, but they are what cause sun burns. Also, keep in mind that UVA rays penetrate through glass, so even if you are sitting in an office you are still susceptible to them.
- Is it water/sweat resistant. Even though no sunscreen offers 100% protection, a sunscreen that is labelled water resistant or sweat proof will protect your skin for longer.
- What are the ingredients. By this I mean the active sun protection ingredients. Look for: zinc or titanium dioxide as they bounce the sun’s rays away from your skin. These are natural ingredients and are often recommended for those with sensitive skin. Then there are also the chemical ingredients that you might find, such as: Avobenzone (Parsol 1789), oxybenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Now, I have to add that there is controversy around some of the chemical ingredients, so do your due diligence and find out if they are right for you.
- Does it have a PA rating. You won’t see this on every sunscreen, but sometimes you’ll see the following: PA+, PA++ or PA+++. Basically, this tell you how effective the sunscreen is against UVA rays, the more +’s the better.
How much should you wear? You should be applying about a half a tablespoon worth of sunscreen on your face alone, which effectively means that most of us aren’t wearing enough. With that in mind, it’s probably a good idea to wear a higher level of protection (like a 50 SPF), especially in the summer months when you will be naturally exposed to the sun for longer. Make sure that you are applying an even coat over your face (and body) and don’t forget your ears and lips.
Can you layer SPF? It’s important to note that SPF is SPF and that it doesn’t add up if you layer it. So the SPF in a sunscreen is no different than an SPF in your face cream, you are just likely to apply it more liberally than your cream. Also, wearing a face cream with say, an SPF 15 and then applying a foundation with an SPF 30, won’t give you a total of an SPF 45. Your max will still be 30.
How long does it last? This is where it gets tricky because SPF only lasts for about 2 hours, so while it’s easy to apply it first thing in the morning, what are you going to do 2 hours into your day, especially if you’re wearing a full face of makeup? This is where SPF powders become really helpful. My favourite is from Color Science, but there are many on the market and it’s super easy to dust your face with a little powder every few hours throughout the day.
Do you use a sunscreen everyday?
Check out my favourite sunscreens:
Don’t forget to sign up for my FREE SUMMER SKINCARE CHALLENGE and join me for a 4 week SUMMER SKIN SHAKEUP to get a radiant complexion for the upcoming summer months! Starts June 27th.