Five (Surprisingly Common) Sunscreen Mistakes that Almost Everyone Makes

Five (Surprisingly Common) Sunscreen Mistakes that Almost Everyone Makes Photo by Armin Rimoldi

Sunscreen is an essential part of any skincare routine, providing protection against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. However, despite its importance, many people unknowingly make mistakes when applying sunscreen. These seemingly minor errors can compromise the effectiveness of the product and put your skin at risk of sun damage. Here, we explore five surprisingly common sunscreen mistakes that almost everyone makes and how to avoid them:

Not Using Enough Sunscreen

One of the most prevalent mistakes people make is not using enough sunscreen. Simply applying a thin layer might not provide adequate protection. According to the NHS, as a guide, adults should aim to apply around 6 to 8 teaspoons of sunscreen if you’re covering your entire body. Applying less than the recommended amount can significantly reduce the sunscreen’s efficacy, leaving the skin vulnerable to harmful UV rays. To ensure proper protection, be generous with your sunscreen application, and don’t forget to cover often overlooked areas like the ears, neck, and the back of the hands.

Applying Sunscreen Incorrectly

Even if you’re using the right amount of sunscreen, applying it incorrectly can undermine its effectiveness. People often make the mistake of applying sunscreen just before stepping out into the sun. For the best results, apply sunscreen at least 15-30 minutes before sun exposure. This allows the product to be absorbed properly and form a protective barrier on the skin. Also, remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours or more frequently if you are swimming or sweating.

Using Expired Sunscreen

Sunscreen has an expiration date for a reason. Over time, the active ingredients in sunscreen degrade, making it less effective in shielding your skin from UV rays. Using expired sunscreen not only increases your risk of sunburn but also exposes your skin to potential long-term damage. To avoid this mistake, check the expiration date before using any sunscreen. Additionally, store sunscreen in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, as exposure to extreme temperatures can accelerate its degradation.

Relying Solely on High SPF

Many people believe that a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) sunscreen provides all-day protection. However, this is a common misconception. While a higher SPF does offer increased protection against UVB rays, no sunscreen can provide complete protection from the sun. Additionally, high SPF sunscreens may lead to a false sense of security, causing people to spend more time in the sun than they should. It’s crucial to remember that no matter the SPF, sunscreen should always be supplemented with other protective measures like seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, and using sunglasses.

Neglecting Other Sun Protection Measures

Sunscreen is an essential part of sun protection, but it should not be the only line of defence. Neglecting other sun protection measures is a common mistake many people make. Seek shade whenever possible, especially during peak sun hours (usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.). Wear protective clothing, such as wide-brimmed hats and lightweight, long-sleeved shirts. Don’t forget to wear sunglasses that offer UV protection to shield your eyes from harmful rays. Combining these measures with proper sunscreen usage will maximise your skin’s protection against the sun’s damaging effects.

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