Diana Crisan Jun 17, 2016

Raise your hand if you apply sunscreen every single morning. We didn’t see your hand go up, but that’s no big surprise. According to research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the majority of Americans are not regularly using sunscreen to protect themselves from harmful UV rays.

In fact, a survey by the CDC shows that only 29.9% of women reported that they regularly use sunscreen on both their faces and other exposed areas—and even those who are, aren’t sure whether the product they used provided the protection needed to ward off both UVA and UVB rays.

To ensure that you’re not one of 70.1%, we consulted dermatologist, Dr. Bruce Katz of Juva Skin in New York City to fill us in on all things SPF, including which ingredients to look for, how much to apply and how to do it the right way.

importance of sun protection

What Comes First? The Makeup or the SPF?

Wake up, brush teeth, put on makeup — wait, no. First comes the sunblock, then comes the makeup. Although your fave BB cream might have SPF 20 listed on the bottle, Dr. Katz stresses the importance of (always) applying sunblock before foundation. “Don’t rely on makeup for the best source of SPF as it’s notoriously unreliable in terms of the level of protection,” he says.

OK, now that your skin is properly protected, you may move on to the makeup application portion of your morning routine! Just one more catch, Dr. Katz recommends waiting at least 10 minutes for your formula to absorb and set, before moving on to next steps (plus he says SPF makes for a great makeup base — if that’s not another good reason to protect your skin, we don’t know what is!).

What to Look for in an SPF?

Squeezing out one dot won’t have you completely covered either, according to Dr. Katz, you must use a generous amount and apply it evenly until it vanishes — meaning enough to cover all areas, including your neck and ears. But, before you purchase anything that just says SPF 30 on the label, make sure you’ve got a formula that works! “Keep an eye out for these three important ingredients: Zinc, Titanium Dioxide and Avobenzone.”

And if you’ve been hoarding the same bottle for years and years, 1.) you haven’t been applying everyday! And 2.) be sure to check the expiration date because once that date has come and gone, the stability and efficacy of that product may be compromised.

Do I Need to Reapply Throughout the Day?

If you’re sweating, swimming or out in the sun, Dr.Katz recommends re-application every two to three hours, otherwise your sunblock can last four to six. Ideally, you’d be able to re-apply over makeup, and while there are mineral powders with sunblock that can do the job, “sunscreen should always be applied under makeup for maximum protection,” says Dr. Katz.

You’ve got it, doc!


Will you raise your hand the next time we ask whether you wear sunscreen every day? Tell us which sunscreen is your go-to in the comments below, and share some of your tips on how you remind yourself to re-apply throughout the day!



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