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Natural Living

How to Choose the Right Sunscreen

Most of us know the importance of wearing sunscreen in the summer months to avoid sunburn and damage, but it really should be a habit year-round. Here’s your step-by-step guide for choosing the right one.

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You know you’re supposed to wear sunscreen regularly, even with incidental exposure—but it’s easy to forget to slather on sunblock when you’re not lying on the beach. A better solution: incorporate sunscreen into your regular beauty routine, with SPF-fortified makeup, powder, face cream, lotion, and lip balms.

When you’re choosing SPF cosmetics and lotions, look for the term “broad spectrum,” which means the product contains sunscreens that block both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays, which account for about 95 percent of the sun’s UV radiation, penetrate into deeper layers of the skin, playing a significant part in skin aging and wrinkling, and may play a role in the development of skin cancer. Though UVA rays are less intense than UVB, they’re present during all daytime hours, all year round. UVB rays are responsible for sunburns, skin aging, and the development of skin cancer; their intensity varies by time of day and year, and they’re most prevalent between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Did you know…

Lips are commonly overlooked when it comes to sun protection. But our lips are particularly vulnerable to UV rays because the skin is thinner and more delicate.

What is SPF?

The level of SPF—which stands for Sun Protection Factor—is a measure of how long a product will protect you from UV rays. Time is one factor; the intensity of the UV radiation is another factor. So, for example, an hour of sunlight at 9 a.m. is the same as only 15 minutes at 1 p.m. when the sun is at its peak.

Super-high numbers like 80 or 100 aren’t really necessary. Even an SPF 15 sunscreen blocks more than 90 percent of UVB rays, so for incidental exposure—going to and from work or errands—a lower SPF of 15 or more is fine. If you’re out during peak hours, or for longer periods of time, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF of at least 30.

Be sure your cosmetics and creams contain safe sunscreens. Avoid products that contain harmful ingredients like oxybenzone, a hormone disruptor, or retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A that may harm skin and can cause skin tumors and lesions. Also avoid products formulated with parabens, preservatives that have been tentatively linked with increased risk of cancer. Better choices: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, natural minerals that work by deflecting the sun’s UV rays.

To avoid crow’s feet and dark circles, don’t skip applying SPF to the eye area.

If you’re using a makeup or tint, apply it evenly and all over the face for the best protection, and don’t skimp on coverage. Layering SPF products is the best way to go; moisturize with an SPF facial cream, then apply an SPF foundation or tint, followed by SPF lip color or balm. You can also skip the cream, apply a light foundation, and dust generously with SPF powder or bronzer. For maximum protection, lotions, powder, and lip balms should be reapplied throughout the day—which you’d usually do anyway. And if you’re going to be sweating, or you’re out between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. or for longer periods of time, reapply every two hours, and consider a base of high-SPF sunscreen before you put on foundation and other cosmetics.

To avoid crow’s feet and dark circles, don’t skip applying SPF to the eye area.

Start protecting your skin all day long, with these beautiful SPF solutions:

  1. After washing face, smooth on a layer of SPF-fortified lotion or cream; if you’ll be outside for more than 15 minutes or during peak sun hours, choose a product with a higher SPF—30 or more.
  2. Gently pat an SPF eye cream under and around eyes, and in the outer corners where squint lines appear; delicate eye tissue is especially vulnerable to the sun’s damaging rays, so don’t skip this step.
  3. Apply an SPF foundation. For regular coverage, choose an oil-free or moisturizing liquid foundation. A tinted face cream or BB (beauty balm) product is ideal for sheer, natural-looking coverage. Apply evenly and liberally, for best protection.
  4. Set foundation with a light dusting of powder; using a powder to finish also evens out shine and makes touch-ups easy throughout the day. Or skip the foundation, and go for a powder bronzer instead.
  5. Finish with a SPF lip balm, alone or over lip pencil. Be sure to reapply every two hours to keep lips moisturized and protect them from burning.
  6. Don’t forget body lotion; neck and hands are especially vulnerable, so reapply often. 

Skin-Protecting BB Cream 

Mineral Fusion Illuminating Mineral Beauty Balm SPF 9 offers mineral sun protection that shields your face from the sun’s harmful rays while potent antioxidants ward off free radicals.

Mineral Fusion Illuminating Mineral Beauty Balm SPF 9

Waterproof Wonder 

The Honest Company Honest Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 Fragrance Free is an unscented, broad-spectrum SPF 50+, waterproof mineral sunscreen lotion. It’s lightweight and nongreasy.

The Honest Company Honest Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50 Fragrance Free

Protect Your Pout

Kiss My Face Sport Balm SPF 30 is blended with nourishing shea butter and vitamin E. It’s also water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Kiss My Face Sport Balm SPF 30