I know sunscreens are the best way to protect my skin from aging. How can I make sure I’m getting the maximum benefits?
“I can’t tell you how often I hear patients say, ‘I’m never in the sun.’ Even if you don’t lay out by a pool or on the beach, if you live on the planet Earth, especially in the city of Los Angeles, you’re getting sun,” says Dr. Rebecca Fitzgerald.
“I see the effects of underestimated sun accumulation on people’s faces every day,” she says. “If you compare the top of you’re forearm to the underside, you’ll get an immediate idea of how sun exposure has already transformed your skin.
When you consider that the sun’s damaging UVA rays are responsible for 80% of your skins’ aging, you’re smart to review your sun protection. Dr. Fitzgerald tips us off to the most common mistakes she sees her patients making when it comes to sunscreen.
4 Common Mistakes We Make with Sunscreen
#1. Relying on the SPF in your makeup or moisturizer. There often simply is not enough sun protection in these products to do the job. And most makeup only protects you from UVB rays – not aging UVA rays.
#2. Not applying enough sunscreen. When you squeeze sunscreen in your hand before you smooth it onto your face, that dollop should be at least the size of a quarter. Apply 15 minutes before you go outside to allow for absorption, she reminds us.
#3. Habitually skipping certain areas such as your chest, neck – front and sides, your ears, and the backs of your hands. Damaging rays are coming straight through your cars’ windows, so it’s common to have more sun damage on the left side of your face and neck, explains Dr. Fitzgerald.
#4. Forgetting to reapply. This is easy enough to correct – simply smooth on more sunscreen at lunch. But if ruining your makeup is preventing you from reapplying midday, clear mineral powders with SPF, such as Colorescience Sunforgettable SPF 30, were made with you in mind. Use the portable brush to dust lightweight powder over your skin (makeup and all). Mineral sunscreens are widely available including at Dr. Fitzgerald’s office.
And for Dr. Fitzgerald’s top musts?
Choose your sunscreen wisely. SPF 15 screens approximately 96% of skin cancer-causing rays. To protect from aging rays, look for one of these powerful broad-spectrum ingredients (meaning it screens UVA and UVB rays); Zinc Oxide, Mexoryl or Helioplex in the product you select.
Dr. Fitzgerald recommends Neutrogena sunscreens with Helioplex; La Roche-Posay Anthelios, and DHC Sunscreen. “They’re all very light, non-greasy and won’t burn your eyes,” she explains. “Definitely take advantage of one of the higher SPF’s, such as 60 or greater, if you’re planning to spend several hours outside at the beach or on the golf course.”
Avoid tanning booths at all costs! The UVA rays being applied to your skin to achieve that certain shade you desire are also the culprits of deep tissue damage and cancer. The damage from booths is worse than that of the sun, cautions Dr. Fitzgerald.
Remember it’s never too late to address the sun damage you are seeing now!
Brown spots, freckles, fine lines and wrinkles – the giveaways of time in the sun can be effectively treated with IPL laser treatments, chemicals peels and topical treatments such as hydroquinone bleach.
Schedule skin cancer screenings. “Pick a day each year that you can’t forget, like your birthday, and make it an annual event to have your face and body checked,” says Dr. Fitzgerald. Certainly visit sooner if you notice any new moles or changes to an existing mole.
Empower your own repair system. Your body never forgets any of the sun it’s been exposed to. But by effectively protecting your skin today, you allow your immune system to work on repairing the damage from yesterday, last summer and yes, even the burn you got when you were eight!