I’m not going to tell you to use sunscreen every day. I know you know it.
But, are you doing it right? I often hear my friends proudly say they only applied a thin layer or mixed their sunscreen with lotion. It makes me want to scream.
They have no idea, but they’ve just made their sunscreen useless. Sunscreen is a serious business with its own rules. Break them at your peril.
But what if you break them without knowing it? After all, so much of the common sunscreen advice is wrong.
Time to bust some myths, me think. Here are some common misconceptions about sunscreen set right:
1. Is It Ok To Apply Only Half The Recommended Amount Of Sunscreen?
No. No. No. No. No.
I know, 1/4 teaspoon of sunscreen (the recommended amount for the face only) is a lot. But, if you apply less, you’ll compromise your sun protection.
Instead of getting the SPF stated on the bottle, you could end up with half of it or less. Don’t risk it!
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2. Can You Mix Sunscreen With A Lotion?
Absolutely NO way. Just no.
I get it. Some sunscreens are greasier than a frying pan. Others make you look like Caspar The Ghost (it isn’t the best of looks even at Halloween…).
Mixing sunscreen with your moisturizer seems like the perfect solution. But, there’s a huge problem with this.
It dilutes your sunscreen. If, for example, you mix a SPF 25 sunscreen with a moisturizer, you can end up with SPF 10… or lower. There’s no way to know for sure.
That’s dangerous. You’re thinking you’re so well protected and next thing you know, you’ve got a sunburn. And why are those wrinkles creeping up on your face so soon?
Don’t do it.
3. Can You Skip Moisturiser And Use Only Sunscreen?
It depends on your skin type (see, I don’t say no all the time. 🙂 ).
If you have dry skin, I don’t recommend it. Your skin is thirsty for moisture and it’s unlikely any sunscreen will satisfy it.
You have more luck with this if you have oily skin. If your skin produces enough moisturizing oil (a.k.a. sebum) on its own, you can get away with skipping the moisturizer and putting on only the sunscreen.
How do you know the sunscreen’s enough? Listen to your skin. If you’ve skipped the moisturizer and your skin starts to feel tight and uncomfortable, you know you need to put it back into your skincare routine.
4. Can You Skip Sunscreen If You Use Cosmetics With SPF?
Again, it depends.
Here’s the deal: it doesn’t matter what product with SPF you’re using, be it a sunscreen, a moisturiser, or a foundation. To get the SPF stated on the bottle, you must apply the recommended amount (1/4 teaspoon for the face alone, remember?).
In practical terms, that translates into 7 layers of foundation and 14 of powder. Who does that?!
If you don’t mind piling on the layers, go ahead and skip the sunscreen. But often, this ain’t possible. You may get away with using moisturiser with SPF as sunscreen, but 14 layers of powder will make you look cakey.
I prefer to ALWAYS use a separate sunscreen. Just in case.
Can You Use Your Child’s Sunscreen?
Yes, you totally can.
You’d think that sunscreens for kids are gentler but the truth is, they use the same ingredients as sunscreens for adults!
Sunscreens for kids and adults are the same, but companies try to convince us they are different to make us buy the same product twice. It’s just another marketing technique.
Dr. Neal Schultz, a cosmetic/medical dermatologist in NYC confirms it: “To my knowledge there is no difference between sunscreens made for children and sunscreens made for adults and conversely children can use adult sunscreen.”
P.S. If you’re looking for a gentle sunscreen that can be used on babies, too, check out my fave picks here.
6. Can You Make Your Own Sunscreen At Home?
That’s a very BAD idea.
Sunscreen is a very delicate thing. You can’t just find a recipe online, buy a few ingredients and become a sunscreen pro.
You need to understand what UV filters work well together, at what concentrations they are most effective, put the right preservative system in place… and a gazillion other things. Make a mistake and you’ve compromised its effectiveness.
But, let’s say that you go ahead and make one anyway. How the heck are you going to test if it really works? By slathering it all over your skin and not getting burned?
That can simply mean you didn’t spend enough time outdoors to get a sunburn. But, it can’t tell you if you’re protected by UVA rays and the wrinkles they cause.
Bottom line: without adequate testing, you can’t tell the level of SPF your sunscreen has. If you don’t know that, how can you protect your skin safely?
Make all the DIY moisturizers and masks your heart desires. But when it comes to sunscreen, leave it to the experts.
Did you fall for any of these myths? Let me know in the comments (don’t be shy – we all did!).