Remember the heavenly smell of Bain de Soleil or that first sunburn of the summer? Remember sun reflectors and tanning beds? Remember Spring Break in Daytona or your first vacation to Club Med? Well, any or all of those pleasures add up to the following facts: 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. Or if this sounds any simpler: One in five Americans will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before age 70. You don’t need a calculator to understand this. Chances are, the older you are, the more sun exposure you’ve had.
The first line of defense is an annual screening with a serious dermatologist—one who looks at the bottom of your feet, as well as your back and everywhere in between, even before suggesting four zillion cc’s of botox. The second line of defense is to simply use sunscreen every day. Sunscreen is the ultimate tool in your age-defying war chest and you shouldn’t under deploy the weaponry. That’s where the simple stuff ends. The rest: what kind, how much and how often is a bit more complicated. Sunscreen can be really confusing. Mineral or chemical? With moisturizer or not? Broad Spectrum? Why not? Before or after your foundation? Depends. So many questions to unpack.
The basics: there are two kinds of sun protection: “chemical” which changes UV rays into heat, then releases that heat from your skin, and “physical or mineral” which coats your skin, deflects and scatters the rays before they have a chance to impact the dermis. The FDA has approved 17 different ingredients for sunscreen, so do the math–hundreds of great choices for us all. The bottom line is–we want to encourage sunscreen for everyone, and the simplest easiest advice that we can impart is non-negotiable:
- Do reach for a sunscreen that has a 50 SPF but not lower than 30 SPF because the actual facts of the sun protection can be a bit variable.
- Do use a broad spectrum screen—one that protects you from both UVA and UVB rays.
- Lotions get the highest ratings for ease and efficacy, with sprays following. You lose about 30% of the spray while applying it to your body(note: the EPA hates the sprays).
- Do NOT be afraid of ingredients Titanium Oxide or Zinc Oxide–they are minerals, NOT chemicals and they aren’t the chalky white screens of yesteryear. Formulations are now micronized and sink into the skin in minutes, without leaving a clown face.
- Use liberally. About two tablespoons to an entire shot glass full to cover an average adult body. If you use half as much, calculate you are getting half as much protection.
- Use often. Reapply after swimming and sweating (re: glistening.)
- Use every day, even on a cloudy day in Minnesota. Just make it a habit: brush your teeth, wash your face, and here is where the experts disagree, so we offer a choice to apply in the following order:
- Under your moisturizer or apply moisturizer and allow it to dry fully before applying sunscreen or better still–and the method that makes most sense to us–is the “more is more” club: apply daytime moisturizer with added an SPF, or a BB crème with added SPF, allow it to dry and then apply your sunscreen and then your foundation.
- Reapply during the day and if you are already wearing a full face of makeup, try a BB Cushion compact or sweeping your full face with a mineral SPF packed powder or a clear setting spray with SPF.
- Don’t forget the space near your hairline or under your chin.
Some favorites follow: all of them highly rated, across the price spectrum. Use often and use enough or just stay inside and play bridge.