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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How to use sunscreen

Even though sunscreen has become a common part of our daily lives (vs. back in the 60s and 70s when there were only a few options for sun protection and most people didn’t use it), I still get asked by my clients what is the best way to use sunscreen. Also, when in the product application routine should it be applied.

Sunscreen can be used in several different ways. For everyday use, either find a suitable moisturizer for your skin type with SPF already in it, or mix sunscreen in with your moisturizer. However, when mixing these two products together, you will get less of a sun protection effect. If you are going to be in the sun for an extended period of time, you’ll want to apply your sunscreen undiluted (not mixed with a moisturizer). If other parts of your body are going to be exposed, cover them with sunscreen as well.

If you have normal to oily, oily, or acne/problem skin, you can use your sunscreen as your moisturizer. Putting your hydrating cream on then SPF may be too much for your already overloaded pores to take. Using sunscreen as your moisturizing cream is a practice I recommend for these skin types. So for daily protection of your face, just apply sunscreen as you would your day cream.

Sometimes in the winter months when I was younger (20s-40s) with oilier skin, I would put on a thin layer of my hydrating cream under a sunscreen. My skin was more dehydrated in the colder seasons due to colder air and drying heat inside my home and sometimes needed the extra moisture. However in the warmer, summer months and if you have an oilier skin type, I recommend just using sunscreen without this semi-layering method—unless your skin is telling you to use more moisture. True-dry skin may be fine layering creams like this. Oilier and especially problem skin will probably not handle the load of two creams.

Another suggestion, oily skin or not, is don’t start piling on moisturizer, sunscreen, and makeup on your face. Even for an oil-dry skin type, this practice can be too much for the pores to handle. By makeup I mean specifically liquid foundation, something that is going over the entire face. Eye and lip makeup obviously has no ill effect.

Where to apply sunscreen is another common question. It’s pretty simple: If your exposure is just the to and from the car type, apply sunscreen to your face and neck as you do your moisturizer. If you are going to be outside for exercise or for an extended period of time, don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the back of your neck and ears—especially the tops of the ears.

The only sunshield from a baseball cap is the forehead and part of the nose. The sides of the face, chin, the neck area, and ears are not getting any sun protection.
Be advised that sunscreen is really only half of the requirement for true sun protection. Hats are the second half of the skin protection equation. Baseball caps and visors do nothing to protect your ears, the sides of your face, your chin, and the entire neck area. The nose also doesn’t always get protection from visors and caps. Unless you’re wearing a wide-brimmed hat, your ears and other parts of your face will be exposed. Honestly, even a wide-brimmed hat leaves part of your face and neck exposed—especially if it is not high noon when the sun is directly over your head.

As far as when in your product routine should you apply sunscreen, always apply it last. You want SPF on the outside of the skin in order to get the protection. In other words, applying sunscreen under your moisturizer is not appropriate. If you use makeup with sunscreen in it and still want to use a separate application of regular SPF, apply the SPF first, then your makeup. The reason is because the makeup has pigments to color the outside of the skin and if you apply that first then your sunscreen, the SPF cream will lessen the color of the makeup, so what was the point of applying it in the first place? Chances are if you are out having fun in the sun you probably aren’t wearing makeup.

There are many articles about sun protection on this blog, here are just a few: