I will be the first to admit that as dedicated as I am to my daily morning sunscreen application, I’m just as terrible at remembering to reapply it throughout the day. Whether the reason is inconvenience, lack of purse space or an inability to figure out how to reapply it without disturbing my makeup, I am guilty of the cardinal skin care sin of not re-coating my face with SPF every few hours.
Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology in New York City, said that I’m not alone; these are common deterrents for a lot of people who, although they value sun protection, don’t take the time to re-up the SPF when they should.
“Another reason people may not reapply is because they don’t realize they need to, however, in order for a sunscreen to maintain its benefits and efficacy, it needs to be reapplied. This is especially important to remember even if you are using a sunscreen with a higher number SPF,” Garshick said.
The general rule of thumb for sunscreen reapplication is every two hours spent outdoors, even on overcast days, and sooner if you are swimming or sweating, Garshick said. This is because the UV blocking (or absorbing) components of SPF loose their efficacy over time.
Dr. Nancy Parquet, a board-certified dermatologist at the University of Toledo Medical Center and an assistant professor at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences, said that even if you’re not outside, you should still reapply sunscreen due to the fact that some of the most damaging UV rays emitted by the sun even travel through glass.
“We can often think that if we are not outside for a ‘long time,’ then we are safe from sun damage. This is simply not true. One of the most common skin cancers is caused by multiple unprotected exposures to sun,” Parquet said.
The outdated, chalky and non-spreadable sunscreen formulations you might automatically picture in your mind don’t necessarily fall in line with what’s available now, said Dr. Elaine R. Kung, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City and the founder of Future Bright Dermatology. Current sunscreens often come in makeup-friendly powders, glossy finishing sticks and hydrating sprays.
“Modern-day sunscreens [often] contain moisturizers and antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E, which helps prevent oxidative stress from air pollutants besides sun damage,” she added.
Formats like powders and sprays shouldn’t be first in line for sun protection because they aren’t usually applied in a thick enough coat and might make it easier to miss larger areas of the body, but they are effective for reapplication, said Dr. Alexis Young, a board-certified dermatologist with Hackensack University Medical Center.
Young, along with some other trusted skin experts, helped compile the following list of sunscreen formulations that are portable and won’t be inconvenient to use repeatedly throughout the day. Grab yourself an antioxidant-infused powder that also blurs imperfections, an instant-dry sunscreen stick that goes on completely sheer or a clever SPF powder-spray that works just like a dry shampoo.
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