It's finally summer, which means you're probably spending as many long days outside in the sun as you are in the studio. You might think a quick mist of SPF 30 will do the trick, but there's a lot more to that number—and to sunscreen, in general. Here, we break down the sunscreen basics to keep your sunkissed skin safe.
The Numbers Game
A sunscreen's "sunburn protection factor," or SPF, is often the first thing people consider when choosing a sunscreen. But with numbers ranging from 5 to 100+, it's hard to know what amount of coverage you actually need. According to the Environmental Working Group's official Sunscreen Guide, lots of brands advertise "misleading sky-high SPF values" with no evidence. While there are over 60 sunscreens available with an SPF of 70 or more, the bottom line is that sunscreens in the 30–50 SPF range provide ample coverage.
The More, the Better
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, you need to apply a minimum of 1 ounce of product every two hours to
get its full SPF. (Think the size of a plum.) Most people stop at around a quarter or half of that amount. Make sure you apply your sunscreen 30 minutes before you head outside, and don't miss your ears, toes and under your bathing suit.
Apply, and Apply Again
You should aim to reapply your sunscreen every two hours. But if you head straight for the ocean or pool, it's best to apply another layer immediately once you're done swimming. That's true even if your sunscreen's labeled "water-resistant," which only means you'll be protected for about 40 minutes to an hour upon entering the water. According to the FDA, no sunscreen is truly waterproof and all will quickly lose effectiveness when you're swimming or sweating.