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Common Mistakes While Using Sunscreen

Niharika Arya
You are already aware of the benefits of sunscreen, and you use it quite often. But, many of us make silly mistakes while using sunscreen, which might seem trivial, but can be dangerous in the long run. Find out some of the most common sunscreen mistakes which you might not be aware of.
"You have to protect yourself against both UVA and UVB, and so I recommend people to use a sunscreen labeled broad spectrum."
Dr. Thomas Ruenger, professor of dermatology at Boston University
The first mistake people often commit is not using or forgetting to use sunscreen. We all know that the harmful ultraviolet rays emitted from the Sun are one of the major cause of skin damage. This skin damage occurs in the form of skin cancer, sunburn, and skin aging.
So, it is very important to protect the skin from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the Sun, which one can easily do with the help of a sunscreen lotion. Many people complain about sunburn even after applying a good quality sunscreen.
In this case, it is quite possible that you might be making some of the mistakes mentioned below. In this BeautiSecrets article we will discuss some of the common mistakes made while using sunscreen.

☀---- You don't use it enough

A drop of sunscreen is not enough to protect you from the intense and dangerous ultraviolet rays. So, it is recommended that a person should apply at least 30 ml of sunscreen, especially on the first application. "You should try to use roughly a shot glass of sunscreen for each application," says Tom Rohrer, M.D., a dermatologist at Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

☀---- You apply it only once a day

Many people complain that they get sunburn even after applying a considerable amount of sunscreen before going out. Here the main problem is, though they apply sunscreen in the morning, they forget to reapply it for the rest of the day.
According to Dr. Sandy Skotnicki-Grant, Medical Director of the Bay Dermatology Centre, "You need to reapply every two hours, as the chemical in the sunscreen break down in the sun." So, if you are constantly in the sun for a long time, reapply the sunscreen every 2-3 hours to get maximum protection.

☀---- You think sunscreen sprays are better

No doubt, sunscreen sprays are convenient to apply without getting your hands dirty. But one of the biggest disadvantages of sprays is that, you usually miss a lot of spots. Apart from this, there are concerns about the safety of the sprays. As sunscreen has many chemicals, it can enter and harm exposed delicate parts, like the eyes.

☀---- You apply sunscreen only on sunny days

You are exposed to ultraviolet light not only on sunny days, but even on a cloudy day. UV-rays can penetrate through fog and clouds, and can cause sunburn even when you can't see the Sun. So, put on the sunscreen whenever you go out in the day time.
"UV penetrates through haze and fog, and you can easily get a sunburn. People think they need to put sunscreen on only when it's hot. It never fails that here, in Texas, I see several sunburns in March." Lisa Garner, a practicing dermatologist in Garland, Texas.

☀---- You think sunscreens don't come with expiry dates

Sunscreens do come with an expiry date. The active ingredients in the sunscreen, which protects your skin from the harmful rays, break down and deteriorate over time.
Even an open bottle which has not been used for a very long time, regardless of the expiry date, is not that effective, and may be contaminated with microorganisms. Many people think that using a sealed bottle past its expiry date is fine. However, over time, the ingredients in the sunscreen deteriorates, making the sunscreen ineffective.

☀---- You feel higher SPF means more protection

While it is true that SPF 30 is any day better than SPF 10 or SPF 15, but anything above SPF 30 will give you just 1-2% more protection than SPF 30. According to Marie Jhin, MD, a dermatologist and adjunct clinical instructor at Stanford University, "I do believe that many sunscreens have over-hyped marketing.
Higher SPF does not mean it is a better sunblock or better protection." So, SPF 30 gives you enough protection from the Sun, and if you don't want to spend extra money to get just 1-2% more, it's absolutely fine.

☀---- You believe dark-skinned people don't need sun protection

You need to wear sunscreen to avoid ultraviolet rays regardless of your skin color. However, it is true that people with fairer skin are more prone to skin cancer, but it is not true that people with darker skin will not get affected from the harsh ultraviolet rays of the Sun.
We live in different climates, but this does not reduce the amount of ultraviolet rays that enter the environment. So, wear sunscreen regardless of your skin tone.

☀---- You believe in waterproof sunscreen lotions

You can easily get sunscreens with a waterproof tag, but are they really waterproof? No, they can be water-resistant, but they are not waterproof. Usually, these sunscreens remain for a maximum 45 minutes to 1 hour when you are in water.
But after that they lose their effectiveness, and you need to apply them again. After coming out of the water it is important to reapply the sunscreen. So, don't completely rely on waterproof sunscreen products.

☀---- You rely on makeup with sun protection

If you use makeup which also provides sun protection, it is great, but if you think that your makeup will fulfill the requirement of a sunscreen, then you are wrong. There are many reasons behind this. First of all, you don't apply enough makeup to fulfill the requirement of the SPF.
As makeup also wears off during the day, you usually don't keep reapplying the makeup. So, make sure you apply sunscreen before the makeup, and keep applying it after every 2-3 hours when you are out in the sun for an extended period of time.

☀---- You usually keep your sunscreen in your car

You usually store cosmetics in your car, which is wrong. The temperature of a car's interior in summer, especially when it is parked, can exceed 130 ºF. This extreme temperature can degrade the active ingredients, and make the sunscreen less effective.

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Hence, avoid storing sunscreens and other cosmetics in the car. Even when on the beach, find some shady spot to keep your cosmetics bag. Follow the storing instructions given on the sunscreen pack.

☀---- You think missing some areas is OK

You apply the sunscreen on your face and other parts of the body, but many times, you forget some small areas like behind the ears, back of the neck, lips, etc., which you think is OK. But actually, it is not. If you have short hair, then you should apply sunscreen even on the scalp.
You can use lipsticks and lip balms with considerable amount of sunscreen. Many people put sunscreen after wearing their beach wear, which should be avoided. Apply sunscreen all over the body, and then wear clothes.

☀---- You think sunscreen provides total protection

Even after applying sunscreen all over the body, you might not be completely protected from ultraviolet rays. So, to get maximum protection, you have to wear protective clothes and accessories like hats, shirts, sunglasses, scarves, and even gloves.
Women can go for a hat with a 4-inch brim that can cover the nose and the back of the neck, whereas men can go for baseball caps, as it covers the forehead and the nose.
Wear clothes that can cover maximum areas of your body, and avoid wearing black clothes. Using the tanning bed with sunscreen does not mean you are completely protected from the UV-light. So, instead of harming your skin, you can try out natural ways of tanning your body.
So, these were some of the common mistakes which people usually make while using sunscreen, and I am sure, you must have made at least one mistake out of the list provided. Sunscreens should not be considered as a total protection from the harmful rays of the Sun. Adopt other measures as well to protect your skin. Store the sunscreen in a cool and dark place, and use the recommended amount.