First priority: UV-blocking clothing
First things first, make sure you’re wearing the proper clothing. And by proper, we mean keep in mind the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF): a measure of how completely an article of clothing can prevent sunburn. UPF should ideally be at least 15, but it can go as high as UPF50+.
Basically, wear clothes that shield your skin from UV rays. Even short outings to the store can build up bit by bit.
If you expect high exposure around the face, ears, and neck, then wear a broad-brimmed hat. People with fair skin should consider covering up even more, especially when they’re hanging out around the beach or other high-exposure areas. Snow reflects a lot of UV radiation, so even if you’re exceptionally cold-tolerant, be sure to cover up when you’re on that ski trip or frolicking through a winter wonderland.
Make sunscreen part of your daily beauty routine
More and more beauty products—foundations and makeup primers, for example—are formulated with Sun Protection Factors (SPF). These products should be used in conjunction with sunscreen to boost the anti-UV effects on your skin.
Luckily, we’re getting away from the days when applying sunscreen meant excessive chalky whiteners and strange odors. Plenty of sunscreen products today deliver strong UV protection without affecting your complexion.
Still have some questions? Here is a quick FAQ on how to use sunscreen the right way.
Q: When is the best time to use sunscreen?
Tropical regions have particularly high levels of UV radiation, so use sunscreen year round if you live there. Start using sunscreen no later than March if you live in a more moderate climate like Europe, the US, or Japan. Spring marks the beginning of a sharp spike in UV radiation, even when the temperature is cool. At the same time, your skin has low levels of melanin to protect itself. So take some preventative measures by starting a sunscreen regimen early on.
Q: How do I choose the right sunscreen?
Think about where you live, what you plan to do, and your environment when choosing a sunscreen. Will you use it for run-of-the-mill daily activities? Or, a beach holiday? Different sunscreen products usually have a combination of different sun blocking agents. So remember to choose a sunscreen product with lower SPF or PA levels if exposure is low, and higher levels if you expect to be hanging out in the sun all day long.
Q: What’s the best way to use sunscreen?
Don’t be shy about applying sunscreen, but don’t overdo it either. Cover every part of your body you think might be exposed to UV rays, not just the face. Get to areas like the neck, shoulder, and upper chest. Keep in mind that perspiration can lead to sunscreen wearing off quickly in the summer months, so reapply as needed.
Q: What’s the best way to remove sunscreen from my skin?
Sunscreen should be applied in the morning and removed in the evening, on the same day. Do a thorough cleansing to remove everything. If you use makeup bases and foundation with UV protection, use the Double Cleansing method to ensure total removal.
What do SPF and PA mean?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, while PA stands for Protective Abilities. They both show how strong the product is in reducing UV effects.
SPF protects against UV-B rays. The higher the factor, the stronger the protection. If you plan on going for a swim, then use a waterproof type.
PA indicates the strength of protection against UV-A radiation. Plus signs show how strong it is, not a number. The more plus signs you see (three plus signs maximum), the stronger the protection against UV-A.