Most of my life, I thought I had my skincare routine in check. Cleanse, tone, treat, moisturize, done! But it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I realized I was neglecting one of the key steps to achieving, and maintaining, youthful looking skin…protect!!
I, like most people, was (constantly) reminded of the importance of wearing sunscreen growing up. I’d slather a layer on when hitting the beach to avoid burning, but it wasn’t until I turned 30 that I learned the sheer importance of incorporating this key element into my daily skincare routine. Especially when adding ‘exfoliate‘ into the equation, which I have become a huge advocate for recently as you might have learned from my article ‘The Single Skincare Product That Changed My Skin Forever For Less Than €8‘.
The damage sun can do to your skin is truly irreversible. Premature ageing, pigmentation, loss of elasticity, not to mention, worst case scenario, the C word. The consequences are real, and if you’ve gotten this far in life without experiencing any of these things, it doesn’t mean it won’t catch up with you eventually.
That brings me to mistake number one of the 6 mistakes you’re making with the most important step of your skincare routine, sun protection.
#1 – Sunscreen Is Only Necessary For Prolonged Sun Exposure
I literally used to think sunscreen was something you only needed to use on vacation. Sunscreen daily? No thank you! It will clog my pores and break me out. I’m gonna pass! I would try to avoid the pore-clogging greasy white sunscreens I was accustomed to and hated putting them on my face when I had to. It wasn’t until I discovered the sun protection products right for me that this changed, because all sunscreens are NOT created equally.
Now, for times I plan on lounging poolside or know I will be exposed to the sun for prolonged periods of time, I bust out the extra sunscreens, in addition to my usual daily sun protection products, including the thick greasy sunscreen we all know (for my body), and for the sun-sensitive areas on my face, I apply a thin layer of this miracle-worker by Lancaster:
It’s perfect for the tip of your nose, sensitive spots where you recently had a breakout, or other areas on the face you notice are prone to post-sun pigmentation. Plus, the built-in mirror comes in handy when it comes to mid-day re-application so you aren’t blindly trying to navigate those areas of your face. This product is a game-changer and I don’t hit the beach without it.
#2 – Arrive & Apply
Also guilty of this, I, like many others, had a bad habit of arriving at the beach (or other sunny destination); setting up my little spot with my towel, snacks, and whatever else; getting comfortable; and then applying my sunscreen. I foolishly didn’t realize that you aren’t instantly protected as soon as you slather it on. It actually take the product approximately 30 minutes to soak in and become effective. So with the 30 minutes it takes you to get settled + the 30 minutes it takes for the sunscreen to start working…that’s an hour of unprotected skin in direct sunlight! Not good. Thankfully, with sunscreen a part of your morning skincare routine, you’re at least covered until you do your beach application.
#3 – But, It’s Cloudy
Many people justify skipping their SPF when the sun isn’t shining, but just because you can’t see the sun in the sky, doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful! So, yes, even when it’s cloudy, even in winter, basically any time it’s light outside, sunscreen in your morning skincare routine is a must! Now that I’m better informed, the thought of leaving my house without sunscreen on my face makes me shudder. I can almost feel the dark spots forming…and studies show, I’m not totally crazy! Any more than a few minutes in sunlight without protection and your skin cells already start to react.
#4 – Sunscreen As A Base Layer
You may be tempted to put sunscreen on before your moisturizer, but that’s not the best idea. Sun protection should always be the final step of your skincare routine, topping your moisturizer, for maximum effectiveness. When moisturizer is applied after sunscreen, it can sometimes change the properties of the sunscreen and dilute it, altering its efficacy. Greasy white sunscreens are, understandably, not an ideal last step, so for your everyday sunscreen, you’ve got to find the perfect product…and I have!
My favorite sunscreens come out of Asia, where they seem to be much further along in sun protection products. The one I use religiously every morning is by Biore. It has a watery lotion type consistency, isn’t even a smidge bit greasy, and leaves zero white cast.
And if you’re wondering what the PA ++++ is all about, let me explain. ‘PA’ is essentially the same as ‘SPF’, and the ‘+’ signs afterwards indicate the protection duration, 1 ‘+’ being the lowest and 4 ‘+’ being the highest. Always opt for PA++++ when possible!
#5- Set It & Forget It
Another mistake many make, myself included, is thinking that you can set it and forget it. Unfortunately, that is not the case with SPF. Sunscreen applied in the morning is no longer effective in the afternoon. Protection length depends on the SPF/PA rating, but most sunscreens work for only about two hours, so re-application is key. Not so easy for us make up-wearers, am l right? That’s were my next favorite product comes in, face mist sunscreen!! I found one from The Body Shop that I really love, and it’s small enough to fit in your purse. Win-win!
#6 – Scalp Not Included
The most common areas for melanoma to develop is on skin directly next to where there is hair growth (eyebrows and the hairline), since these areas are often neglected when it comes to sunscreen application. Products like the face mist mentioned above are great for protecting hard-to-apply areas like your hair part! It seems like common sense to protect the skin closest to the sun, and yet many of us forget to. So remember to protect your precious scalp too.
Since incorporating sunscreen into my daily skincare routine, I’ve noticed brighter, more even, healthier looking skin. I only wish I took this essential skincare step more seriously sooner!
Is sunscreen a part of your daily skincare routine? Answer the poll below to see how your response compares to the rest.