Monday, June 22, 2009

Wearing Sunscreen the Right Way

Hi everybody,

Living in the Sunshine state has its perks. In winter, while the cold northern states get sub-zero degree temperature, we call it cold when outside reaches below 50 degree Fahrenheit! However, when it comes to summer the Sunshine state people get more sun than we all need. Yet, I still see some leather-skin, overly tanorexic ladies in the parking lot of Sam’s Club.

When I moved to the Sunshine state, my skin color was about the NC20 region. A year after that, even with religious sunscreen application but no trips to the beach, it jumped up to NC 35! How come? It’s the sun, baby!

Our pretty weather forecaster on channel 6
Notice the UV Index was at 10 and it was not a hot day!

I like the weather forecast: not only it tells me how hot the weather is going to be but also gives me the UV index. What? Your TV station does not give you that? In summer, the UV index can reach above 10 and that means we all need to slather ourselves silly with sunscreen from head to toe.

But the question is, how high of the SPF should you use? With a trip to the drugstore, I can find some bottles of SPF 100+ sunscreen. Hello, are they for Michael Jackson? Do we need sunscreen that high on SPF?

Dermatologists advised to wear the minimum of SPF 30 when you get out of the house. Since we tend not to spackle ourselves with enough sunscreen, the effect is divided in half. If you use an SPF 15 sunscreen and do not apply enough of it, then in fact you only have the protection of an SPF 7.5, which is not enough. The protective effect of sunscreen levels off after SPF 30. At SPF 30, you get 99.7% shielding protection from the sun. We should wear a higher level of SPF sunscreen as it offset the fact that we do not apply enough sunscreen. However, higher level of SPF sunscreens tend to be more oily and clog pores so make sure you look for the ones that are oil free and non-conmedogenic.

How to apply sunscreen correctly

Because if you don’t, you just waste your time, money, and risk your skin to the sun.

1. Fifteen minute to half an hour before going to the beach or just heading outside, rub at least one ounce of sunscreen all over your body, from head to toes. One ounce is an approximate amount of liquid to fill a shot glass, in case you want to gauge. While you can use the sunscreen for your body to apply on your face, I use two different types. As my face is more prone to breakouts, I use physical sunblock that contains titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for the face. The rest of my body can be protected by chemical sunscreen such as avobenzone (or Parsol 1789).

2. Your sunscreen does not last all day so you should apply it again after coming out of the water or after every two hours. I know this is tedious but it does not take that long to apply sunscreen and you save your skin from future damages.

3. If you can’t stand the stickiness, please look for fast absorb sunscreens. Banana Boat makes some really good fast-absorbed products with SPF 50 and above.

4. If you can’t wait for your sunscreen to dry, apply it in two thin layers. That way, you are guarantee to apply enough sunscreen but do not have to wait around for it to dry.

5. Last but not least, please do not neglect the small areas. Believe it or not, living in the Sunshine state teaches me that the sun can burn you in places you do not imagine: the earlobes, behind the ears, the neck (ouch), between fingers and toes. Believe me, flip-flop wearers, there’s no worse burn than that between your toes. Also, please do not forget your neck and arms, especially your left arm if you drive.

I am fortunate enough not to buy in to the philosophy of tan is beautiful. So far, I have never wandered into a tanning salon or use self-tanner. My skin holds a tan well: about 3 months after summer I still have a tan. However, it also catches a tan as well. For one summer that I did not wear enough sunscreen, I had some dark spots on my face (and the skin went riot as well.) It took me a good year after that to erase some of those marks off my face.

So, everybody, please wear an SPF 30+ sunscreen everyday, rain or shine. The best way to fight against aging is to prevent it. Also, you can claim sunscreen money on the flex pay account of your medical insurance. Then, why not stocking it up?

Take care, everybody! And as always, stay gorgeous!


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  1. Great entry! Thanks so much for the advice!

  2. Hi Catanya,

    You're welcome! I'm a fan of sunscreen and if you guys like it, I'll write a series about it.

  3. This was so well written and it should encourage more people to use SPF religiously. It's more detailed and informative than most "why you should wear SPF" posts. Anti-aging is a choice, and is preventative. Use SPF!

  4. Hi Anna,

    I hope everybody takes the advice to heart and wear sunscreen religiously. The UV rays are more damaging than you can imagine.


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