In Case You Forgot: Expert Sun/SPF Tips From Dr. Leslie Baumann
Posted On Mar 31, 2016
Board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Leslie Baumann, whose practice is based in Miami, FL provides some crucial reminders to keep you safe in the summer sun (and year-round).
Most of us know that sun exposure, even small amounts over time, can lead to brown spots, breakouts, wrinkles, and skin cancer. Yet, even when armed with this vital knowledge we continue to commit crimes against our skin by not following sun-smart rules. Before you exit this article thinking, “I don’t live in the Sunshine State,” I will forewarn you that sun-smart rules apply to everyone!
Listen and learn…
When Should I Apply Sunscreen?
Sunscreen should be worn 365 days a year – rain or shine. UVA rays can also penetrate glass, so if you’re working in an office all day and you’re near a window, you are still getting exposed to UVA rays. Sunscreen is especially important when exfoliating the face and body because those upper layers of dead skin cells do provide some level of protection. Without those layers, you’re exposing fresh, new cells to damaging rays.
Did you know?
There are two types of sunscreen: chemical and physical.
Chemical-based sunscreens work by changing UV rays into heat, then releasing that heat from the skin. This type of sunscreen should be applied 15 minutes before sun exposure to ensure that the filters have time to absorb.
Physical sunscreens, which are often referred to as physical blockers, work by sitting on top of the skin to deflect and scatter damaging UV rays away from the skin. These do not technically need to be applied before sun exposure, but Dr. Baumann advises to apply them to the body before putting on a bathing suit and getting dressed so you don’t miss any areas close to your bathing suit (which is where a lot of sunburns occur).
Makeup? Moisturizer? What Order Do I Apply?
Sunscreen should be applied after moisturizer and before makeup. You absolutely, positively cannot depend solely on the SPF in your makeup to adequately protect your skin from the sun. However, using SPF makeup atop sunscreen is a good idea! If you’re wearing makeup and you need to reapply sunscreen, there are some great mineral-based powder sunscreens that you can dust on without disturbing your makeup.
Here are some of our faves:
Bare Minerals SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen ($28; bareminerals.com.uk)
Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral SPF 45 ($30, Sephora)
How Much Should I Apply?
The general rule of thumb is a teaspoon for the face and a shot-glass sized amount for the entire body. To give you an idea, a family of four should use an entire bottle of sunscreen over the course of the day at the beach or pool.
Do dab the sunscreen on the skin because it creates a thicker layer of sunblock, which is more effective.
Don’t rub it in until it disappears because this reduces the level of protection.
Do SPF Numbers Really Make a Difference?
There’s a nominal difference between 30 and 50. Higher SPF lends a false sense of security despite the fact that it really isn’t that more effective. For optimal sun protection, the key is reapplying often, not using a higher SPF, unless you’re going to be outside all day, then a higher SPF is better, but reapplication is still key.
SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of UVB rays.
SPF 30 blocks approximately 97 percent of UVB rays.
SPF 50 blocks an estimated 98 percent of UVB rays.
What does SPF even do?
SPF only indicates a sunscreen’s protection against UVB rays.
Broad spectrum sunscreen is essential for shielding the skin from UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays. Dr. Baumann recommends a sunscreen fortified with antioxidants, such as vitamin E, because sun exposure generates free radicals that damage the skin. Sunscreen without antioxidants does not protect against free radical damage. Use a topical vitamin C serum daily (and especially before sun exposure) to help neutralize free radicals.
Can The Foods I Eat Help Protect Me?
Foods with high levels of antioxidants are great for the body as a whole. While they may help the skin defend itself against free radicals and promote the skin’s natural repair, they are not a substitute for sunscreen.
Cover/ Feature Photo Credit: Shutterstock