Oh, sunscreen—the magical must-have that wards off wrinkles, protects from photodamage and generally makes your beauty routine feel much more… responsible. While we all know to pack on the protection before spending time in the sun, this ever-evolving product can be a bit complicated to understand. To keep us up to date on sunscreen best practices, we caught up with Dr. Jessica Wu, Los Angeles dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face.
Picking Your Product
Ever wonder which sunscreen is best for your skin type? We do. Dr. Wu suggests: “If you have oily skin, you might prefer a liquid formula that feels weightless.” We like La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid, or L’Oréal Sublime Sun Advanced Sunscreen SPF 50+ Liquid Silk Sunshield For Face. “On the other hand, if you have dry skin, look for a creamy, moisturizing sunscreen, like Shiseido Extra Smooth Sun Protection Lotion SPF 38. For those with rosacea or sensitive skin, try one that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, since these minerals are less likely to irritate,” Wu says.
When shopping for sunscreen, make sure to look for one that provides broad spectrum protection, meaning it blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Uncertain about the difference between the two? “As I explain to my patients, UVA (aging) rays contribute to sun damage in the form of discoloration, blotches, and wrinkles because they penetrate deeper into the skin. UVB (burning) rays cause sunburns. Both UVA and UVB rays are associated with skin cancer,” explains Wu.
Even after you’ve picked your perfect UV blocker you’re not out of the woods just yet. Dr. Wu told us the number one sun protection mistake people make is “rubbing sunscreen onto the palms and then patting it onto skin. If you do that, your palms are well protected from UV rays, but not your face. For the best protection, apply a lotion or cream sunscreen in a thin, even layer, and don’t rub too much (you’ll end up rubbing it off).”
You’ve heard it before, but reapplying is also key. “Sunscreen starts to come off or melt after a few hours, so I generally recommend reapplying every 3-4 hours if you’re going to be outside continually. It’s even more important to reapply when you get out of the water, or if you’re sweating or in humid weather, since the sunscreen drips and will no longer provide even protection,” Wu advises.
Spotting Sun Damage
Just in case you might need some extra motivation to lather up, Dr. Wu gave us the lowdown on skin damage. “Freckles are the first sign of sun damage. Contrary to popular opinion, nobody is born with freckles—they are a direct result of UV rays,” she says. “While freckles are cute on kids and teens, continued sun exposure can lead to larger spots and dark splotches that aren’t so pretty. Over time, sun damage breaks down the collagen and elastic tissue in your skin, leading to wrinkles and rough patches. And, UV rays damage the DNA in your cells, increasing your risk of skin cancer.”
We’re off to re-apply our Skinceuticals Daily Sun Defense SPF 20 right away.
Any more questions we can answer about sun protection? Let us know with a comment below!