Everything you need to know about why sunscreen should be your favorite skincare product.
With so many popular skincare trends out there, from the OG 10-step Korean skincare routine to the latest and greatest in chemical exfoliation, we often forget one of the most important steps in our skincare routine: sunscreen. If you look at any expert’s recommended skincare routine, even the simplest routines include SPF as an essential daytime product.
So why is wearing sunscreen so important?
For many of us who are obsessed with skincare, one of our main goals is having beautiful, clear skin — and proper SPF usage is an important part of that. Older skin is more vulnerable to the harmful effects of UV rays. Sun exposure as we age can make our skin look older than it actually is.
Wearing sunscreen is the number-one way to:
- Prevent signs of premature aging, like dark spots and wrinkles
- Reduce your risk of skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States
- Minimize the chance of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) scarring from acne
It’s important to remember that not all sunscreen products are made equal, so your tinted moisturizer with SPF 15 won’t cut it. For a sunscreen to properly protect your skin, it needs to have:
- An SPF rating of at least 30
- Broad-spectrum protection to protect against both UVA and UVB rays
UVA vs. UVB rays: What’s the difference?
Many of us have learned to wear sunscreen the hard way — by getting a sunburn. Though UVB rays are what cause sunburns, UVA rays actually make up about 95% of the UV rays that reach the ground, and they aren’t blocked out by windows. So you should still be wearing and reapplying sunscreen if you spend a lot of time by a window at home or at work, and especially if you’re in a plane, where you’re thousands of feet closer to UV rays.
UVA rays also cause premature aging (think “A” for aging and “B” for burning), but both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer. And if you’re still not convinced, just know that daily sunscreen usage can reduce your risk of melanoma, one of the deadliest skin cancers, by 50%!
How to apply (and reapply) sunscreen
There are many guidelines for how you should be wearing sunscreen to get adequate protection. Here’s a simple guide for how to properly apply sunscreen in the morning:
- Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before sun exposure
- Follow the “two-finger rule”: Squeeze a line of sunscreen on your index and middle fingers, from the base of the finger to the tip, to get enough sunscreen to cover your face and neck
- Don’t forget common “skip spots,” like your ears, around your eyes and the sides and back of your neck
If you’re outdoors, the rule is to reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours or after sweating or spending time in the water. If you’re indoors, your sunscreen won’t break down as quickly, so reapply about 3 times a day, or every 4 hours. To make it easier for me to remember, I think of applying sunscreen like a meal schedule: breakfast, lunch and (early) dinner!
My favorite sunscreen products
The best sunscreen on the market is one that you’ll wear every day. But if you’re not sure where to get started on your journey of applying (and reapplying) sunscreen every day, here are some recommendations:
This lightweight mineral sunscreen offers SPF 50 protection but glides on fast. It’s perfect for wearing under or over makeup. Non-irritating and oil-free, this water-resistant sunscreen won’t clog pores.
This sunscreen has a lightweight gel texture that absorbs quickly and dries completely clear, making it great to wear on its own or beneath makeup. Protect your skin from the sun’s rays while achieving the perfect tan. Light, silky, high-quality ingredients moisturize and improve the health of your skin while absorbing quickly and never leaving behind a greasy feel.
This mineral-only sunscreen contains a brown girl-friendly tint, providing UVA, UVB, and visible light protection. ISDIN Eryfotona Ageless Zinc Oxide and 100% Tinted Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50+, 3.4 Fl. Oz.
elta md SKINCARE
This is my favorite everyday face sunscreen: it’s lightweight, hydrating, and contains niacinamide to help brighten and improve texture!
This sunscreen is oxybenzone-free, non-greasy, and non-comedogenic. It is an excellent choice in the chemical sunscreen category.
elta md SKINCARE
EltaMD UV Daily Face Sunscreen Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid is a workhorse product that provides a high level of SPF protection with hydrating ingredients that you can wear alone or as a base for makeup.
This combination daytime moisturizer with SPF features moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, packing lots of skincare essentials in one product!
I’ve seen this sunscreen at basically every pharmacy I’ve been to, and it’s formulated to be oil-free and non-comedogenic, so it won’t cause breakouts, even for oily or acne-prone skin.
This sunscreen offers high SPF protection without feeling too heavy on your face, and it’s affordable enough that you can use it for both your face and your body without wasting money!
Information is taken from Cherie, credit to user @nathalieschrans