Beauty Beat: Sunscreen 101

Ashley Evert, Assistant Managing Editor

Finals week is looming ahead and all that most of us want to do is lay outside and absorb those sunny days that have finally reached us after this rough winter.

I am an advocate for compromise. Why not go out and study at one of the benches on the Greenway and enjoy the day? But finals aren’t the only thing to worry about while you’re enjoying the sun’s warmth.

One of the most important beauty lessons to learn is the importance of good skin care, namely, the avoidance of sun damage.

Too many girls are seen outside slathering on the tanning oil or posting Instagram photos of them looking crispy in the tanning beds in the dead of winter.

If the goal is to look beautiful by means of getting tan, I feel terrible giving this reality check: you skin is going to look less than beautiful when it is leathery, wrinkled and spotted in 20 years in comparison to those ladies who avoided UV radiation.

The best defense against sun damage is sunscreen. Daily use of sunscreen helps to slow the development of wrinkled, premature aging skin, reduces the appearance of blotchiness and prevents facial brown spots and skin discoloration.

And of course, studies have shown that sunscreen decreases the development of skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., with more than 3.5 million cases diagnosed every year.

Here are the facts on sunscreen and how you can best protect your skin against the negative effects of UV rays.

  • Pick a sunscreen with both UVA and UBA rays to fully protect yourself as well as one that has an SPF of 30 or higher, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.  They also recommend that the sunscreen says “broad spectrum” on the label.
  • Don’t use expired sunscreen.  Sunscreen breaks down easily and using an expired product won’t do you any favors.
  • Sunscreen in makeup is a great way to protect your skin but it is not enough. The easiest way to get the recommended protection is to use a daily moisturizer with 30 SPF or higher.
  • There are even sprays for your scalp that protect against UV rays (like this one by Paul Mitchell) and some claim to help your hair color fight off fading that is caused by the sun.
  • In addition to using the right type of sunscreen, throwing on an oversized t-shirt and a floppy sun hat when you’re not swimming is a good idea.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two to four hours.  Once is not enough!
  • The sun is at it’s hottest from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., so be extra cautious during these hours.

Following these tips will help to keep your gorgeous skin healthier, longer. So apply the appropriate sunscreen regularly and enjoy the warm, sunny days ahead.