When I was younger, it was pretty much tradition that I would burn to a bright, lobstery crisp on every single family vacation to the beach. My siblings somehow managed to develop nice glowing “healthy” tans while never burning, and I desperately wanted that too. So I wouldn’t apply and then reapply sunscreen correctly because I would be trying to get a tan. Nevermind that I don’t tan, I BURN. My pale skin plus the bright glowing death star in the sky equaled sunburn, sun sickness, and general misery every single summer.
I’ve since gotten my head on straight and I’m much more diligent in SPF-ing it up before I’m spending a lot of time in the sun (as well as probably going a bit overboard in touching it up) but it’s paying off. This is the first summer where, after all the outdoorsy pool days and lake days and tubing down the river days, I haven’t gotten a horrible, raging sunburn to show for it.
It’s easy for me to see the benefit in changing my sunscreen habits, because it was basically instant gratification. When I come home, exhausted, after a day on the lake with a headache from drinking too much booze and not enough water, I didn’t also have to deal with my body feeling on fire, sticky aloe applications, cold showers, and lying on my bed naked praying for death (can you tell this is a common occurrence in my life?). But for a long time, I still only applied sunscreen to my body when I knew I was looking at a lot of sun exposure for the day.
If you’ve read Anna’s Skincare 101 article on starting a skincare routine, you know that we here at Skincare Addiction feel that applying sunscreen to your face should come as naturally as washing and moisturizing every morning. I’ll be the first to admit that it was harder for me to make this leap than it was to realize that I needed to be more diligent about body sunscreen before going to the beach. We know that getting really bad sunburns can lead to a greater risk of skin cancer,1 2 so it seems obvious that we would want to take precautions there. But putting sunscreen on every day? When I only see the sun during my commute? When I’m going to spend all day in a cube farm? Why do I need to do that?
The answer comes in a couple of parts. First, sun damage is cumulative (which means all that commuting time will add up). Secondly, sun damage isn’t just the obvious sunburn. It prematurely ages the skin with wrinkles and sunspots, can increase your skin’s tendency toward broken capillaries, and can change your skin’s texture over time to a more thick and leathery feel and appearance.
Unfortunately, for many people it’s not as simple as using the same tube of sunscreen on your face that you’d use on your body. For starters, the thick white sunblock cream that many of us typically use on our bodies is probably going to be too greasy and heavy for daily application on the more sensitive skin of our face. Depending on your skin type and other products you use on your face, there are many factors to take into consideration–does it make you greasy? Does it leave a white cast? Does it get along with anything else you put on your face in the morning, like makeup? Keep an eye out for Anna’s upcoming article about choosing a sunscreen for the answers to these burning questions and more!
Oh my little lovelies, I can hear your desperate pleas. Who wants another thing to have to put on their face in the morning? Do I really need to wear sunscreen? Every day?
Let me put it to you this way: you’ve no doubt seen countless schmancy and expensive anti-aging products out there – wrinkle-fighting creams, night repair serums, lots of stuff to put on your face in the hopes of bringing back the skin of your youth. Well, I’m here to remind you of dear old Ben Franklin’s words of wisdom: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Applying sunscreen every day is the best anti-aging step you could add to your routine; and best of all, it’s often less expensive than products meant to reverse what sunscreen is meant to prevent.