Why I Burn Although I Put On Sunscreen - Do’s And Don'ts
by Gabriel Webber
A month ago
It’s a nice and beautiful summer day and you take your family to the beach for the day. Or maybe the waves are peeling under a sky free of clouds. Whatever your adventure is, you are at the beach (or lake or river) for the day and making memories that everyone will remember forever...and of course taking amazing unfiltered pictures for Instagram to show all your friends and family.
But then you get home and you realize your skin got burned although you are sure you put on some sunscreen. In this post we are going to discuss the do’s and don’ts to successfully applying sunscreen so that you and/or your loved ones don’t burn.
When you buy your next sunscreen, you have to make a fundamental choice if you are going to buy a chemical barrier sunscreen or a physical barrier sunscreen. We won’t go too much into this topic here, but if you are not aware of the differences, then I recommend reading our recent blog post on chemical versus physical barrier sunscreens. Basically, chemical barrier sunscreens use harmful and toxic chemicals such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, or octinoxate to absorb and disperse the sun's UV rays on our skin. While physically barrier sunscreens use zinc or titanium dioxide to simply reflect the UV’s rays resulting in them being much safer for your body and the environment.
Next up to consider is what you will be doing while in the sun. If you are going to mostly lay in the sun with very little time in the water, then you can use a tinted moisturizer with SPF to help you look natural and protect yourself from the sun. If you are going to be in the water quite a bit, such as surfing or lounging on a raft, you will want to use a sunscreen that contains bee’s wax or natural lanolin to make the sunscreen water repellant.
Before we get into our sunscreen do’s and don’ts, the last topic I want to bring up is additionally protecting yourself from the sun by wearing hats, long sleeve clothing and using UV beach umbrellas. At the end of the day, the sun is no joke and must be taken seriously. Even with the best of intentions and with the best sunscreen in the world, you can still get burned if you are out all day. For this reason, I always recommend you consider wearing hats, long sleeve coverings and relaxing under a large umbrella that has UV-factor material. This is even more important for children to help them protect their amazing skin for as long as possible.
Now for what you have been waiting for...lets dive into what to DO to have a fun and happy day in the sun without getting burned:
- Do apply your sunscreen before you arrive at your destination. This way, you can ensure you are fully covering your skin which will be exposed. If you do it once you arrive, you probably want to go have so much fun that you will rush or forget to even apply the sunscreen
- Do choose a lotion or paste over a spray because sprays are notorious for very uneven spraying, thus you think you covered an area while in fact, you missed areas. In addition, most sunscreen sprays are chemical barrier sunscreens using oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, or octinoxate so they are very harmful to use.
- Do slowly rub in your sunscreen, starting with the important parts first before moving on to the rest of your body. I always recommend staring with your nose, forehead and shoulders before moving on to your chest, back, arms & legs.
- Do reapply sunscreen every 1 to 2 hours. Most sunscreens say to reapply every 2 hours, but in my experience, I think every hour is better so that you do not unintentionally get burned. At least head over to some shade every hour and check your skin for any redness. If you are starting to see some redness, your skin is starting to get burned. At this point you should either cover up with a hat or long sleeves, or consider calling it a day.
- Do apply only natural sunscreens to toddlers and children and apply regularly. Also, I always recommend covering children with full length bathing suits and having them wear hats for maximum protection.
And for the don’ts…
- Don’t use chemical barrier sunscreens. Not only are they extremely toxic for the environment when they rub off in the water, they are also proven to be hormone disruptors. With recent advances in the technology for zinc and titanium dioxide based sunscreens, there is simply no reason to continue using chemical sunscreens.
- Don’t buy generic sunscreens. No matter what you read or what your friends tell you, generic sunscreens just don’t work the same as brand names. I don’t know the exact reason, but I have spent many days in the sun and tried almost all brands and types of sunscreens. In my personal experience, I always get burned when I use generic sunscreens.
- Don’t think your skin is used to the sun and you don’t need sunscreen. You need it. While you may not get burned while being out in the sun, you are most definitely accelerating the aging of your skin and quickly reducing its elasticity. Wearing a sunscreen or moisturizer with SPF helps you maintain your skin.
- Don’t forget the top of your feet! Most people wear shoes all week because that is standard in our culture...but this means we all have feet that don’t get much sun. Thus it is very common for the top of peoples feet to get burned. I have seen this happen so many times in life, I should probably put the reminder to put sunscreen on your feet at #1.
- Don’t use sunscreens that are old. Sometimes we may find a sunscreen in our home that hasn't been used for a year or two. I do not recommend using it because separation of ingredients can occur, thus limiting the effectiveness of the sunscreen which may increase the chances of you getting burned.
With these dos and don’ts for enjoying your day out in the sun you should have a great and not get burned. Because no matter how a great a day you had, it is never any fun to be sunburned and it can totally erase all those amazing memories.