The 3 Biggest Sunscreen Mistakes You’re Making

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You weren’t born yesterday, so you already know that the sun is bad for you. Sure, it facilitates life on earth, but it also wreaks hyperpigmentation-havoc (among other things, psst wrinkles) on your skin. And if the sun is the enemy in this little metaphor, consider sunscreen to be the soldier that shields you and goes to battle against harmful UV rays.

While SPF is a hero for sure, it can only really protect you from the aforementioned skin horrors if you are using it correctly. And most dermatologists agree, women, despite their best intentions, continue to make big mistakes when it comes to correctly using and applying sunscreen. Because the efficacy of sunscreens is directly related to how they are used, this is a big deal. So what are these big blunders? So glad you asked.

Not reapplying

It’s great you remember to put sunscreen on in the morning, however by the time the sun goes down at night, your one application in the morning has totally worn off. If you are in the sun, you need to be reapplying sunscreen every two hours, says New York dermatologist Rebecca Baxt, MD.

Layering SPFs

Using two products, say your moisturizer and foundation with sunblock in them, is fine, but thinking their SPF factors combine to be one larger, more powerful SPF is not. “Women think that the SPF 15 in their makeup plus their SPF40 in their sunblock, equals a 55, which is just not true,” says Dr. Baxt. In reality, the most you are getting is the highest level you apply, and that’s it.

Relying on SPF in makeup

Sunblock in makeup is usually enough to prevent a burn when used properly, but it isn’t enough to prevent all the harmful rays that age the skin and cause skin cancer, says Baxt. “Makeup products with SPF are usually between SPF 5 and 15, which is not appropriate for direct sun exposure. I always encourage my clients to wear a minimum of SPF 15 when exposed to the sun, and the higher the better!” adds New York dermatologist Dennis Gross, MD. “Makeup is also not applied everywhere that sunscreen should be, and we often miss the neck, ears and hairline,” he says.

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