Now that the sun is back and it’s stronger than ever, we must not forget the sun screen if we are planning to spend a long time outdoors, be it at the beach, the mountains or the swimming pool. It may seem like a chore, or maybe you are one of those who think that they will get a faster tan without it, but we must be aware and responsible: protecting our skin from sun rays is a must before any sun exposure.
Firstly, think about what factor sun screen to buy: this is the number shown next to the SPF (sun protection factor) acronym on the bottle. This number refers to the amount of time after application that we may spend under direct sunlight without getting burnt: So, if you start to redden after 5 minutes, a cream with an SPF of 15 should allow you to stay out for a total of 75 minutes (15 times more), before you burn.
- Can I use last year’s sun screen?:It is very common to reuse previous year’s sun screens. But before you do so, please check the following: use by date which is always printed onto the packaging. On the other hand, you must always check how long will the product stay in perfect conditions once the packaging has been opened: check the packaging for the open pot symbol with a printed number showing the total months (usually 12) that the product will maintain its properties once open.
- What type of sun screen should I buy?:You must use a sun screen that is resistant to water (because you will be usually getting into and out of the sea or the swimming pool and may also be washing the cream off with your own sweat) and broad spectrum, i.e., that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. FPS numbers only refer to the UVB rays, so the sun screen packaging must clearly state “broad spectrum block” or “protects against UVA and UVB rays”
- Be prepared before leaving your home:sun screen must be applied at least 30 minutes before sun exposure to ensure that the skin has absorbed it properly. In addition to that, we must reapply it approximately every two hours since the first application.
- Some difficult areas that we tend to forget about:don’t forget to also apply sun screen on your face (including eyelids), ideally a specifically formulated type which is less greasy than the type used for the rest of the body. Some specially delicate body parts that we tend to forget : knee pits (area behind the knees), nape (back of the neck), on top of the ears, armpits (not joking, I have seen lots of people with burnt armpits after falling asleep face up with the arms stretched), insteps and bikini lines or groin.