7 Common Sunscreen Mistakes That Harm Your Skin

If you think that slathering on sunscreen is enough to protect your skin from the sun, think again. The truth is, if not used correctly, even the most popular sunscreen can fail to shield your skin from damage. Sunscreen is undoubtedly one of the best measures you can take to protect your skin, but it’s crucial to apply it properly to reap its benefits fully. In this article, we’ll explore some common sunscreen mistakes that people often make and how you can avoid them.

Applying Sunscreen: The Right Way

Mistake #1: Waiting Until You’re at the Beach to Apply Sunscreen

It’s a common misconception that you only need to apply sunscreen right before stepping onto the sand. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. To give your skin enough time to absorb the protective ingredients, it’s recommended to apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before heading outside. Ensure that you apply it evenly on all exposed areas to avoid missing any spots.

Mistake #2: Applying Too Little Sunscreen

One of the most common mistakes when it comes to sunscreen application is using too little of it. To achieve the sun protection factor (SPF) stated on the label, a little dab won’t suffice. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), on beach days, cover your body with at least 28 grams (equivalent to one full glass) of sunscreen.

Mistake #3: Neglecting Important Areas

When applying sunscreen, it’s crucial to cover all areas that will be exposed to the sun. Unfortunately, there are some spots that people tend to overlook, such as eyelids, ears, and lips. Research published in the journal PloS One revealed that nearly 20% of participants failed to apply sunscreen to their eyelids, unaware of its significance. The skin above the eyelids has the highest rate of skin cancer per unit area, making it essential to protect this area. Don’t forget to also apply sunscreen to your lips or use lip balm or lipstick with SPF 15 or higher.

Mistake #4: Forgetting to Reapply Sunscreen

Applying sunscreen once is not enough to provide protection throughout the day. According to an AAD survey, only about 33% of Americans reapply sunscreen as often as recommended. To ensure continuous protection, it’s essential to reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, especially if you sweat a lot or go swimming. Even a sunscreen labeled as “water-resistant” only maintains its SPF for up to 80 minutes. Additionally, reapplying will help you achieve more even coverage overall.

Mistake #5: Uneven Application

To fully benefit from sunscreen, it’s crucial to apply it evenly. Uneven application can result in inadequate protection, rendering the SPF on the label ineffective. Therefore, make sure to spread the sunscreen thoroughly and evenly, ensuring smooth coverage.

Mistake #6: Skipping Sunscreen on Cloudy Days

Don’t be fooled by cloudy weather. Even when the sun isn’t visible, approximately 80% of UV rays can still reach your skin. While cloudy weather can block some UVB rays, most UVA rays can still penetrate through the clouds. Therefore, it’s crucial to wear sunscreen whenever you’re outside, regardless of cloud cover.

Mistake #7: Ignoring the Expiration Date

When using sunscreen, don’t forget to check the expiration date. Once the sunscreen has expired, it may not provide the level of protection listed on the label. To ensure optimal sun protection, discard any sunscreen that has passed its expiration date.

In conclusion, while sunscreen is an excellent tool to safeguard your skin from the harmful effects of the sun, using it incorrectly can be detrimental. By avoiding these common mistakes and ensuring proper application and reapplication, you can enjoy the full benefits of sunscreen and protect your skin from sunburn, premature aging, and the risk of skin cancer. So, next time you reach for that sunscreen, remember to apply it generously, evenly, and well in advance of your outdoor activities. Your skin will thank you!


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