Beauty and the Beach: Practice Safe Sun with these SPF-Savvy Tips
Just how SPF-savvy are you, really? Even some of the best and brightest beauty editors are guilty of committing sun sins against their skin at one time or another. How much SPF is enough? Can I forego SPF after 4PM? Is the sunscreen content in my makeup enough to correct and protect? With overexposure to UV rays as the leading cause of deadly skin cancers, including photo and pre-mature aging, it’s time to throw some shade to those aging, damaging rays with these sexy, sun-smart tips and savvy know-how.
The Vitamin D Dilemma
So, you’re endlessly being scolded (and rightfully so) for not slathering on sunscreen every two hours during the daytime EVERY SINGLE DAY, YET there is that little very crucial bone-fortifying essential otherwise known as vitamin D that your body can only produce when it’s exposed to UV light – unprotected. So, what’s a sun-savvy gal to do? (insert proverbial head scratch) Actually, the body only needs fifteen minutes max of daily, unprotected sun exposure to reach the required levels of the vital vitamin for efficient processing.
Also, there are these convenient things known as supplements you can take to ensure your body is getting its fix. So, sorry, you’ve got no excuse to skip the sunscreen. But, if you are going to go for a brisk morning walk to get the vitamin the all-natural, old-fashioned way, your best beauty bet is to never forego facial sunscreen. Instead, keep arms or legs exposed. And, after fifteen minutes, start slathering up.
Let’s Get Physical…or Chemical?
There are two different types of skin sunscreens – physical and chemical. Physical ones, such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, are “physical” blockers, meaning they sit on top of the skin’s surface without getting absorbed, shielding skin from rays. Chemical sunscreens, such as octinoxate, oxybenzone, and avobenzone, are carbon-based compounds that create a chemical reaction when absorbed by skin to change UV rays into heat, then releasing that heat from the skin. Physical sunscreens are commonly found in mineral, powder-based makeup and cosmetics and are usually preferred by those who are acne-prone, as there is no penetration into skin’s pores. Chemical sunscreens are known to spread and melt into skin more easily, without leaving that undesirable white cast atop skin that is so prevalent with their physical counterparts.
Your sunscreen ingredient choice is really just a matter of personal preference. Derms suggest using both, if you’re skin isn’t susceptible to blemishes. The first coat being of the chemical variety, then, adding a layer of physical. Doubling up on your daily defense against damaging rays ensures you’re suitably armored against any sneaky sun rays that may try getting through. If you think you haven’t slathered on enough, you probably haven’t. In the case of sun protection, more is always better – never less.
So, now that we’ve de-bunked some common beauty myths regarding sun protection and shed clarity on the whole physical-chemical sunscreen conundrum, let us be your sun-dercover agent with the following fuss-free tips:
Sport Your Birthday Suit
Let’s keep it simple. To ensure never again making excuses for forgetting to apply sunscreen, just apply it to your entire body post shower. This way, you know you never missed a spot. A shot glass full usually covers the entire body from the neck down. Apply a shot glass full of a chemical-based sunscreen, then, apply a coat of physical – just in case. Don’t forget the back of your neck, tops of ears, hands, and feet. They have skin on them, too. For the face, you’re going to need half a teaspoon’s worth for sufficient sun protection coverage. It may take a few extra seconds to fully blend the product into skin, but your skin will thank you.
Make-up and Moisturizers
Sorry to break it to you, but the SPF on the backs of bottles is not enough to protect you for very long. Sure, it helps, and we dare not discredit the modest effort in protecting our precious skin, but we need to layer our sunscreens. We need to apply a traditional sunscreen, a moisturizer with sunscreen, and a foundation/tinted moisturizer/BB/CC cream containing sunscreen. Then, if outdoors, we need to re-apply that protection. If you’re a makeup maven, then toss a powder or spray sunscreen in your purse or keep in car for multiple re-applications.
Start sporting sunglasses sunup to sundown, along with hats whenever you can. Not only do they accessorize the trendiest of wardrobes, they double as wrinkle warriors. Between the hours of 11am and 2pm, try donning long-sleeved shirts and pants, if possible, for extra protection against harmful, burning rays. During these hours, the sun is at its most detrimental to the epidermis. While driving, slip on gloves to protect backs of hands from sun penetrating car windows. Umbrellas are fun and cute to have in hand when taking an afternoon stroll.
Spread the SPF Love
Always be prepped and prepared to protect. Today’s innovative, fuss-free formulas make sun-smart skincare effortless and convenient. SPF sprays and powders are purse-perfect, but can also be kept in car (away from direct sunlight), tossed in beach bags, or kept in your make-up kit. Plus, keep a tube at home for post-shower slathering. Try the cool, clear, sand and sea-scented organic SPF from COOLA® that evenly and refreshingly coats skin sans rubbing in. So long sticky fingers! This no-more-messes must-have is perfect to apply over our Kashmere® Sunless Tanning Lotion. Another beauty no-brainer is the mineral powder-based Colorscience® Sunforgettable SPF that you can apply and re-apply throughout the day without messing up your makeup. Now, you never have an excuse not to take cover – or re-apply throughout the day. We’ve got your back (and your face, arms, chest, legs…)!
Protect from Within
Your best beauty bites to help dim the damage from rays include reddish-orange –hued foods that are high in lycopene, like tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, apricots, papaya, sweet potatoes, and eggplant. Sip your sun care with flavanoid-rich green tea and take a bite out of burning rays with a few squares of dark chocolate (no less than 70% cocoa content).
Flaunt a Faux-Glow with Beach-Beautiful Bronzers and Skin-Safe Sunless Tanners
Self-tanners and bronzers come in a variety of red carpet, gorgeous glow-worthy options, such as sprays, lotions, creams, mists, and powders. Try our beauty bombshell-approved, sweet-smelling Kashmere® Sunless Tanning Lotion before bed and wake up to beautifully-bronzed, sun-kissed skin that lasts up to ten days. Don’t want the faux glow commitment of a sunless tanner or spray tan? Enjoy a “one night tan” and brush on or blend in bronzers only to those areas you wish to color and highlight for added depth and dimension. Bronzers are totally temporary and considerably less pigmented than self-tanners, plus they completely and easily wash off whenever you’ve had enough. More on self-tanning how-to’s, including the bronzing breakdown next week, so be sure to check back. Either way, most self-tanners and bronzers do not come equipped with sun protection, so be sure to apply an SPF of 30+ over your fabulous faux glow when outdoors.
Don’t be misled by the number on the package, you need at least an SPF of 30 or higher every day – even if you’re confined to a cubicle and going from coffee to cocktails. Nothing less than SPF 30 will adequately protect your skin. And, a sun protection factor of 30 only blocks about 95% of UVA/UVB rays. Remember when we mentioned layering SPFs? There will always be a slight chance some rays will sneak in, so you need to be diligent about that number, layering, and re-applying. Remember, more is better. Re-applying is best. If you’re outdoors most of the daylight hours, slather on SPF 50 or higher and re-apply every two hours. If you go from desk to dinner and rarely see the light of day, you probably won’t need to re-apply as much. Always assess your sun situation.
It’s All in the Timing
If you’re wearing only a chemical sunscreen, don’t wait until you’re outside to apply it. It’s already too late. Chemical sunscreens need at least 20 minutes to be fully absorbed by the skin to provide maximum efficacy. If you’re wearing physical sunscreen, you can apply just before you step outside. No waiting required.
Check expiration dates on backs/bottoms of bottles or tops of tubes, as sunscreen ingredients lose their protection potency after about six months. If it’s been over half a year since you bought it, has a watery, curd-like consistency, or is emitting a fragrant “funk,” toss it and buy a new one.
Prep, Prime, Perfect, and Protect
Sun protection products that pack a powerful punch of anti-aging antioxidants, along with a bevy of other beautifying benefits, not only shield skin from environmental aggressors, they also help repair and reverse the inadvertent, everyday damage caused by those harmful rays that (sadly) snuck in. Particularly, CC/BB creams, tinted moisturizers, and your daily go-to hydrating and healing cream usually contain some level of sun protection, while providing morning-must routine simplification. Look for complexion-perfecting SPF products formulated with vitamin C to lighten, brighten, tone, and tighten, or licorice root to fade hyperpigmentation and sun spots, while evening-out skin tone. We are privy to prettifying products that preserve, perfect, correct, AND protect, and that revolutionize and simplify our skincare and beauty regimens. So, make sure your daily defense is pulling double duty.
And, don’t commit the common sun care slip-up by neglecting to slather SPF on these spots: scalp, hairline, tops of ears, hands, tops of feet, lips, and nape of neck. Skin on these areas is thinner and more delicate, making them especially susceptible to sun damage, skin cancer, and aging. Worried you’ll create slick strands if you apply an SPF to your scalp? Now’s the perfect time to buy that beautiful beach hat.