10 things you didn’t know about sun protectionLearn uncommon facts about sunscreen — and more — to better protect your skin
You slather on sunscreen and hope for the best, but are you doing right by your skin? Here, we’ve compiled a surprising list of things many people don’t know about sun protection. Read, and your skin will thank you.
1. Your washing machine can help protect your skin.
The latest trend in sunscreen isn’t something you rub into your skin; rather, it’s something you throw in with the laundry. While clothing does provide a barrier between the sun’s harmful rays and your skin, many fabrics pack a pretty puny punch. Take lightweight cotton, for instance. Don’t count on getting more than SPF 5 protection. However, a new product called SunGuard, endorsed by the Skin Cancer Foundation, can simply be added to your washing machine load along with detergent to add an extra level of sun protection to your clothes. After your favorite T-shirts and pants are washed and dried, the protective coating is said to block more than 96 percent of the sun’s rays from permeating the fabric. Best part? The product is very affordable. One package, just $1.99, gives a load of laundry protection for up to 20 washings. That’s an entire summer’s worth of tees!
2. Drinking fruity, alcoholic beverages means you need to reapply sunscreen more frequently.
Do you love to lounge at the beach drinking a piña colada or margarita? That umbrella cocktail in your hand may be weakening your sunscreen’s effect, says New York–based skincare and beauty product expert Risi-Leanne Baranja, who cites the research of dermatologist Frederic Brandt, MD. “He explained that if you're drinking a significant amount of sugar or alcohol, you are causing inflammation in your skin and you will release more free radicals,” she says. “Then the sunlight suppresses your immune system. Therefore, it's important to add more sunscreen in these situations to combat it.”
3. Chocolate may protect your skin from the sun.
No, don’t ditch your sunscreen in favor of a chocolate bar, but researchers say there may be something to our favorite treat’s sun-protecting effects. According to a recent study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, antioxidant-rich dark chocolate may increase your own UV protection. The researchers suggest eating little bits of chocolate—preferably dark chocolate, with 70 percent cacao content or higher—throughout the day to increase your body’s natural sun protection. Hey, we’re not arguing with that!
4. You’re probably not using enough sunscreen.
Think about how much you squirt on your hand when applying it in the morning. A dime-size amount? A quarter-size? Both are far from enough, says New York–based celebrity makeup artist and skincare expert Mickey Williams. “Sunscreen should be applied liberally. Most people apply only 25 to 50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen. About one ounce of sunscreen, enough to fill a shot glass, is considered to be the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body properly.” If your face is the only real exposed area of your body, especially during the winter months, follow this advice from Dr. Brandt: “To ensure adequate coverage, apply a teaspoon of sunscreen—at least SPF 30—for your face and neck alone,” he says.
5. There’s no such thing as “waterproof” sunscreen.
Many people think that if their sunscreen is water-resistant, they’re good to go all day at the beach. Not so, says Williams. “The general rule of thumb for sunscreen application is to reapply every two hours throughout sun exposure,” she says. But if you’re in the water, reduce that time frame to every 40 minutes. According to FDA guidelines, explains Williams, bottles marked as “water-resistant” last just 40 minutes during water immersion. Those labeled “very water-resistant” may last as long as 80 minutes before reapplication is needed. But beware of products that claim to provide “all day” protection or are labeled “waterproof,” as these are misleading statements and are not supported by the FDA.
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