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Properly Applying Sunscreen

The importance of wearing SPF is well documented. It’s the non-negotiable product that all experts agree should be worn every day — rain or shine — to protect all skin tones against UVA and UVB rays. In turn, it helps reduce the risk of skin cancer and slow down the signs of aging. But are you wearing it correctly? In smearing sunscreen on my kids every morning, I try to get every patch of skin not covered by clothing, including necks, noses, knees, and elbows, but they are very squirrely and have very little patience, so I’m not getting every last inch. This made me wonder, as an adult person not prone to wiggling but also impatient, am I properly protected?

I apply a daily SPF to my face but what about my neck, throat, ears, hands, and hair? Until recently, I didn’t even think about protecting my scalp, but now I’m on the search for hair and scalp mist with SPF. There are so many products and types of sunscreens available, especially those that crossroads with beauty products and brands. There are mineral SPFs, lotions, sprays, and just about as many techniques to apply sunscreen. Here’s a rundown of some basic tips and tricks to help you start the summer all SPF-ed up.

First, apply sunscreen in layers to combat the white sheen that many sunblocks can cast. If you have any amount of skin pigment, it’s challenging to avoid that white tint. So instead of gooping it on, start with small dollops and work it into your skin. And it’s best to moisturize before sunscreen. A little moisturizer will help spread your sunblock while applying it on dry skin can also cause a whitish tint.

It’s best to give sunscreen a good 15 minutes or so to absorb before heading outside. And if you’re spending all day outdoors, reapply as best you can every two to three hours. You’ll also want to take into account your activities.

Obviously, swimming requires water-proof sunscreen and regular reapplication, as do heavy sweat activities and outside chores. Wearing a hat and rash guards provides even more protection and saves you from fuller-body reapplication.

Don’t forget your neck, ears, scalp, hands, and feet. These areas of skin are the most neglected when it comes to sunscreen. The neck, throat, top of the ears, back of the hands, and feet before you put on sandals should all get sunblock. Plus, there’s nothing worse than a savage burn on the old melon. Even if you have a full head of hair, you should consider using a scalp and hair SPF mist to protect not only your head but also the health of your hair. Too much sun can cause drying and breakage on even the thickest of locks.

For the face, if your day cream doesn’t have SPF built in, I recommend using a specialized face sunscreen since traditional sunblocks feel and go on greasy, potentially clogging pores. Like you have different creams, soaps, and lotions for different parts of your body and skin, you can have different types of sunscreens. For days when you’ll be mostly inside, you can utilize tinted sunscreen in lieu of a standard foundation. You can even create your own version by mixing your sunscreen with your foundation on the back of your hand and then apply with a makeup sponge or brush. That’s one of the best beauty DYIs out there!

It’s also worth noting that the dose you must use to get the protection promised on the packaging is the same for all sunscreens, so even if you’re wearing a higher factor, it doesn’t mean you should reduce the amount you’re applying.

Of all the skin-care products we use, sunscreen is the most powerful and the most important, so please, even if you are running late, and the dog is whining, and the kids are being brats, don’t skip getting everyone protected this summer.