Seven sunscreen need-to-know tips

Brownie points to all of you who already wear sunscreen daily, but there is more to sun protection than just slathering it on. What you need to know and the perfect product for every woman


1. Know your numbers

SPF is the acronym for Sun Protection Factor. The number on your bottle represents how long your sunscreen can protect you for, not how strong it is. This is where simple math kicks in: Multiply the SPF value by the amount of time it takes for your skin to react to direct sun (when it reddens or it starts to feel hot). For example, if you get a pinkish colour from direct sun exposure in 10 minutes, then 10 is your magic number. Simply multiply the number on your sunscreen lotion, for example SPF 15, by your time (in this case, let’s say 10), so 100 is 15 x 10 = 150. The number of minutes your sunscreen is protecting you for is 150 minutes, so ensure you reapply every 150 minutes.

2. It’s a personal thing

An SPF 15 might mean longer protection for you, but not for someone — especially children. The time factor does not remain constant for everyone: it might take you 15 minutes to feel the effect of the sun, but for someone else five minutes might be all it takes. What this means is that, the ‘safe period’ is not the same for every person even if you use the same product. Next time you’re in the sun with your family, take note and reapply accordingly to ensure that everyone is equally protected while having fun in the sun.

3. Let’s get physical

Apply chemical-based sunscreens at least 20-30 minutes before you go out for the properties to settle in and take action. Don’t forget about your scalp and your hair. Spray sunscreen onto your head, to help protect your hair from UVA and UVB rays that can damage and dry out locks.

4. Broaden your spectrum

A simple sunscreen can only protect you from UVB rays. UVB rays are to blame for painful sunburns. Unless specified otherwise, your SPF does not protect you from UVA rays, which are responsible for skin cancer and skin aging. For protection from UVA and UVB rays, make sure your sunscreen says that it is ‘broad spectrum’. Physical blocks that contain Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide can help protect you from UVB and partial UVA rays. Chemical filters offer broader spectrum coverage for both UVA and UVB.

5. Insider information

You may not take into consideration that light rays are everywhere, even on cloudy days, so be mindful of this fact. This might sound over the top, but all light rays can cause damage, especially fluorescent lights found in most offices. Light rays that come from lamps are usually UVA, the type that causes skin damage, so protect yourself all day and everyday.

6. You missed a spot

Many of us are guilty of neglecting some very sensitive areas on our face and body. Don’t forget about these spots: the under eye area, ears (including the back part), elbows, back of hands and hair line. Pay special attention to the under eye area by applying sunscreen made specifically for this ultra-delicate spot.

7. After sun care is just as important as pre-sun care

Don’t just focus on getting covered, it is important to nourish your skin after a long day out in the sun, it is also good to incorporate into your skincare regime something to nourish your skin such as a calming and hydrating mask at least once a week. After a full day of protecting yourself from the sun, when it comes to cleansing make sure you have a good cleanser that is effective yet gentle to take off all the dirt and layers of sunscreen off your face. Just like makeup, you don’t want to let sunscreen residue linger on your skin when you sleep as it will clog your pores and potentially cause breakouts. This is a lot of information to take in and sun protection seems like such a chore, but trust me, protecting yourself from sunrays in a sensible manner is the basics to beautiful skin (along with drinking water and regular sleeping habits!) Here are some great products that can help.

Fun in the sun sunscreens

For the busy mom: L’Oreal Ombrelle Sensitive Kids SPF30
This sunscreen is good enough for you and your kids.

For the beach bum: Phyto Plage Protective Beach Spray
UV rays can damage your hair as well as skin, so don’t forget to shield those tresses.

For the sporty gal:
Aveeno Hydrosport Sunblock SPF 50
Water and sweat can strip away sunscreen instantly. When engaged in outdoor sports, this waterproof protector is key.

For the glamour gal: Etival Ambient Body Lotion SPF 50
This lightweight lotion goes on silky without feeling greasy, and can easily be used under makeup.

For the city girl: Dermalogica Solar Defense Wipes SPF 15
Keep a fresh face and stay protected all day long with these portable wipes.