You already know the importance of sunscreen and how to use it: Go for an SPF of at least 30 or higher, wear it every day, and carry it with you to reapply every couple of hours. But even doctors have to take courses every few years to stay up to date on the latest advancements. So consider this your refresher. These four tips will help you better protect yourself from the harsh rays of the sun, and chances are you’ve never heard them before.
1. All sunglasses are not created equal…for sun protection. Just because you shouldn’t apply sunscreen on the upper eyelids (it can penetrate the extra-thin skin and irritate your eyes) does not mean you should leave your eyes defenseless. The solution: Sunglasses with polarized lenses and UV filters. But make sure to avoid anything reflective, like mirrored lenses or metal accents (aviators are especially bad), which will bounce extra UV light onto your skin.
2. The bigger the hat, the safer the skin. A sun hat should be one of your beach-bag staples along with sunscreen and a couple of Coronas (don’t forget the bottle opener). But before you pack, bust out your tape measure, because that brim of your hat had better be at least four inches all the way around. Four inches guarantees protection for the scalp and tops of the ears, both places where people often forget to apply sunscreen and many skin cancers develop.
3. Ditch the gloss—yes, even if it contains SPF. Sure, one with SPF will block out UV rays, but gloss wears off quickly, leaving your lips exposed to the elements. And “like baby oil, a shiny lip gloss both absorbs and reflects sunlight and can increase your risk of a burn,” says Jeannette Graf, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. Go for a lip balm instead (we like Fresh Sugar Sport Treatment Sunscreen SPF 30). “Lip balms with SPF are waxier than glosses and adhere better,” says Graf.
4. Mineral sunscreen needs some extra TLC. Mineral sunscreen can get a bad rap, and we saw that most recently when a controversy surrounding the Honest Company sunscreens developed. But mineral sunscreens just go on differently than chemical sunscreens. Specifically, they need a good shake. That’s because mineral sunscreens’ active ingredients “are heavy and want to separate on the bottom of the container,” says cosmetic chemist Jim Hammer. Give the bottle a good shake before each use to help the active ingredients get on your skin and out of the bottle.