The ABCs of SPF

Sunny days are definitely back again, with Memorial Day weekend heralding the unofficial start of summer and the first opportunity to lounge, sip a summer cocktail and return to work on Tuesday with an unsightly case of raccoon face. Don’t do it! We love our fresh Vitamin D, but don’t fancy looking like we’re 104 years old until we really are 104 years old. But staying indoors isn’t exactly an option either, especially with  so many chic suits, cover ups, totes and luxurious towels to shop for! What’s a sun lover to do? Yes, we all know about that thing called sunscreen. Duh. And SPF. Uh, yeah. But lately we’ve been noticing a lot of new SPF terms being floated around out there, and our already harried brains now have to think even a little harder when we’re at the drugstore. So we’ve put together some simple tips for sunning to make slathering up effortless, so you don’t have to hide under your hat or stay cooped up in your cabana!

A: Active Ingredients

Look for the physical sunscreens zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They sit on the skin instead of absorbing inside of it, which protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. Other common ingredients like avobenzone only protect you from one type, making the cocktail of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide a barrier you can rely on.

B: Before the Sun

Apply sunscreen before you even step outside. Adding a serum like Kate Somerville’s Protect SPF 55 Serum Sunscreen to your makeup regimen will make it easier to remember. Slather on your sunscreen at least 30 minutes before heading out. It takes that long to get dressed anyway, doesn’t it?

C: Constant Contact

The sun’s rays break down any form of protection, so re-application is key. If you’re on the go, dusting on mineral sunscreen like Peter Thomas Roth’s Instant Mineral Power will kick up your SPF (and kick back shine, which is a great bonus). And for those who can’t deal with the grease factor most sunscreens have, wipe on your protection with zinc wipe, like these from SuperGoop!

D: Don’t Forget the Details

Your hands and lips are constantly in the sun – whether it’s cloudy or not they need a shield, too. Always make sure your lip products have adequate SPF. And if you’ve got a hand cream, why not add some in there, too? Try Fresh’s cult classic Sugar Lip Treatment and Clarins Age Control Hand Lotion, both SPF 15.

E: Every Day

Even if it’s not sunny out, the sun’s rays can get to you. Apply liberally no matter what the forecast calls for.

F: Formulas by the Numbers

Here’s how the numbers game plays out in SPF, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation:

“Someone using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 will take 15 times longer to redden than without the sunscreen. An SPF 15 sunscreen screens 93 percent of the sun’s UVB rays; SPF 30 protects against 97 percent; and SPF 50, 98 percent. The Skin Cancer Foundation maintains that SPFs of 15 or higher are necessary for adequate protection.”

G: Going, Going, Gone

A rough guide to how long your protection will last goes like this, according to the Foundation: minutes to burn without sunscreen x SPF number = maximum sun exposure time. If you burn after 10 minutes of sun exposure, SPF of 15 will allow you to stay protected in the sun for up to 150 minutes without burning. This is general though, and even the most devout users of SPF rarely use enough to get the full benefit of their product. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a shot glass worth of sunscreen to cover your whole body.

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Author:Christopher Luu for Fashion Trends Daily

Christopher Luu is a Fashion Trends Daily Senior Writer and Menswear Editor.