Sunscreen 101: Is Your Face Getting Enough Protection?

Protecting your face from UV rays is one of the most important things you can do. Everyone, no matter how light or dark their skin, is susceptible to skin damage. This can lead to wrinkles, dark spots, and premature aging—and worst of all, skin cancer.

While much of the skin on your body is usually covered by clothes, your face is almost always exposed. It’s more vulnerable to the sun anyway, thanks to thinner skin and more pores than elsewhere on your body. You may know that wearing sunscreen on your face every day is the best defense—but are you doing it right? Read on for tips on how to make sure you stay protected.

What kind do you need?

The first thing to know is that you don’t want to use body sunscreen on your face. Facial skin is more prone to irritation, so sunscreens meant for this area are specially formulated to be less irritating. This means they won’t make you break out, too.

If you’re worried you’ll have to smear your nose in a thick layer of white zinc oxide, relax. Modern facial sunscreens are much different from the formulas of yesteryear. You can even use them if you have oily skin, because they don’t leave a greasy layer on the skin or cause a too-shiny face.

You’ll want to choose a sunscreen that’s SPF 30 or higher for proper sun protection. If you have especially sensitive skin, look for a brand that’s formulated to be gentle.

Get the sequence right

Use daily moisturizer? You’ll want to apply it first. Try to wait at least twenty minutes before you apply your sunscreen, because this will give the moisturizer time to absorb fully so the sunscreen can go on in an even coat. Makeup should go on over the top of the sunscreen layer.

There are many products on the market today that include sunscreen, including moisturizer and liquid/powder foundations. These often have a lower SPF (15 or so) than recommended and aren’t as effective as a separate layer of sunscreen, but they’re better than nothing if you’re short on time.

Apply correctly

You should be using about a fourth of a teaspoon of sunscreen to cover your entire face and neck. Apply it 30 minutes before you go out in the sun if you can—this gives it time to absorb fully and begin working.

It’s best to reapply your sunscreen every two hours if you’re outdoors. This is especially important if you go swimming, exercise, or sweat a lot.

Dermatologists say that up to 80% of the premature aging they see comes directly from excess sun exposure, since it breaks down your skin’s natural collagen and elastin. Too much sun exposure is also the leading cause of skin cancer. Isn’t it worth taking a little extra time and effort to keep yourself beautiful and healthy?