Ask the Expert
Sunscreen and Your Morning Routine
Wearing sunscreen is one of the best — and easiest — ways to protect your skin’s appearance and health at any age. Used regularly, sunscreen helps prevent sunburn, skin cancer and premature aging.
To help make sunscreen a part of your daily routine, dermatologist Anna Chien addresses common concerns.
What SPF should I buy?
For day-to-day use, pick a sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. If you spend time outdoors, choose a product with SPF 60 or greater. In reality, most people do not use as much sunscreen as they should, and this higher SPF helps compensate.
Everybody needs some sun exposure to produce vitamin D (which helps calcium absorption for stronger and healthier bones). But unprotected exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause damage to the skin, eyes, and immune system.
How much sunscreen do I need?
To protect your face, neck, arms and legs, you’ll need about 1 ounce of sunscreen. Squeezed into your hand, 1 ounce of sunscreen is enough to completely cover your palm.
Should sunscreen come before or after other products?
So long as the sunscreen is at least SPF 30, water-resistant, broad-spectrum and applied about 15 minutes before going outside, it doesn’t matter in what order you apply your skincare products. Some people find it’s easiest to work with bare skin — before makeup or moisturizer have been added. Find what works best for your routine.
If you have concerns about layering specific products, speak with your dermatologist.
Does makeup with SPF work?
Makeup is not enough to protect your skin — even if it has a high SPF. Unless you’re willing to wear an entire ounce of foundation atop your face, stick with a standalone sunscreen.
Are organic sunscreens any better?
There are no firm data that indicate organic sunscreens have any additional benefits. Your preferred product is a personal choice.
Do I really need to reapply sunscreen throughout the day?
Generally, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating.
If you work indoors and sit away from windows, you may not need a second application. Be mindful of how often you step outside, though. Keep a spare bottle of sunscreen at your desk just to be safe. Even a short stroll at lunch could put your skin at risk.
Keep in mind that no sunscreen is perfect. Wear wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses or other protective clothing and seek shade whenever possible.
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