9 new rules for sunscreen
The arrival of summer signals a renewed effort to wear sunscreen on a daily basis, but are you aware of the latest rules for its use? Here are 9 new tips for protecting your skin from sun damage and potential cancers
Pick a moisturizer with sunscreen for everyday use
Sun, heat, and the chemicals in pools can leave your skin feeling parched, and dull. To save your summer glow, choose a product that does double duty as both a moisturizer and sunscreen. Dr. Julia Carroll, director of Compass Dermatology in Toronto, says moisturizers that contain sunscreen can be an elegant way to hydrate and protect your skin year round. “One of my new favourites is CeraVe AM. It’s a moisturizer with SPF 30. It also contains ceramides, which help repair the skin barrier, and niacinamide, which reduces skin inflammation,” she says. If you’re going to be playing sports, or spending a full day soaking up the rays, Carroll recommends a traditional sunscreen for its protective qualities.
Go for two coats in one go
Most people skimp on the amount of sunscreen they apply, so the new wave of thinking is that two applications are better than one. By putting one full coat on your body (an amount the size of a golf ball, or shot glass), followed by a second application, you’ll ensure that your skin is properly protected. “We know that most people only put on a quarter of the amount that’s needed to achieve proper SPF levels, so I recommend patients apply more to compensate,” says Carroll.
Dark skin needs sunscreen, too
“Sometimes people with darker skin forget to protect themselves,” says Carroll. “If you have dark skin, it only gives you an SPF of about 10. It’s a mistake if you have dark skin to think that you’re fully protected because you’re not.”
Protect that tattoo
Did you know that the sun’s rays could cause your tattoo to fade, blur or change colour? Slather sunscreen on your ink to aid its longevity. Some companies such as Coppertone now sell products for this very purpose. Their SPF50 Tattoo Guard Stick is a wax-based sunscreen that has been on the market for a while, but its use for tattoos is quite new. Another reason to protect your tattoos from sun damage? Hidden moles. “If there’s a mole inside the tattoo it can be hard to spot, so it’s not a bad idea to protect it,” says Carroll.
Forget about waterproof products
Sunscreen companies can no longer market their products as water-, or sweat-proof because these claims were found to be false. You’ll see products labelled as ‘water resistant’, but these lotions will only offer protection for a limited time (typically 40 or 80 minutes) while you’re swimming, or exercising. To protect yourself, pop out of the water, or off the sports field, and reapply your sunscreen every hour.
If you’re looking for extra protection, Carroll recommends wearing a rash guard – the trendy shirts, vests, shorts and full-body gear that surfers wear underneath their wetsuits. Made of neoprene, spandex, nylon or polyester, rash guards are light enough to wear with your swimsuit, but boast sufficient thickness to protect your skin from the sun.
Avoid SPFs under 30
It’s great that your face cream contains an SPF of 15, but unfortunately it’s not offering much protection. “In order to claim that a product protects against cancer, and aging it has to be a least SPF30,” says Carroll. “My general recommendation is to use a 30 for your face daily, and a 50 or higher if you’re being active in the sun.”
Buy new products
If you’ve found sunscreen left over from last year in your beach bag, or car, toss it and purchase new products. Open containers with valid expiry dates will have lost much of their SPF protection. Sunscreen ingredients can separate and deteriorate over time, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Say goodbye to white streaks
If you’ve been avoiding sunscreen because many of the products leave a white, or chalky appearance on your skin, you’re in luck. Companies are now offering products with ‘clear zinc’ that leave behind no tell tale signs. Even more attractive – the new tinted sunscreen products. “LaRoche Posay just launched a tinted sunscreen that blends really well on any skin type – fair or dark,” says Carroll. “You can use it as liquid makeup to even out skin tone, or on your legs and décolletage.”
Give sunscreen a hand
Sunscreen provides a great defence against sunburn, skin damage and cancer, but it works best when it’s got company. Hats, umbrellas and sunglasses are all stylish accessories that can help in the fight against skin damage this summer. “Remember, sunscreen is the third line of defence after avoiding peak sun hours and covering up,” says Carroll.