The Do’s and Don’ts of Sunscreen

The Do’s and Don’ts of Sunscreen
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By Vibrant Dot Staff

Most of us believe (even until now) that we only need to wear sunscreen to prevent extreme sunburn, which explains why we only apply it when we are heading to the beach or outdoor swimming pools. The fact is – that’s 100% not true!

 Do you know that 90% of our skin “sins” are related to sun exposure? Be it getting exposed directly or indirectly under the sun, still the UVA and UVB rays are able to penetrate into our skin, leading to premature aging. The signs are hyper-pigmentation, melasma and wrinkles. The worst case scenario? Skin cancer.

 Even though we are aware of the potential damage caused by sun rays, it was truly a visual shock when the New England Journal of Medicine published a portrait of a 69-year-old truck driver with half his face aged dramatically compared to the other half.

As he didn’t have the habit of wearing sunscreen, one side of his face was consistently exposed to the sun rays transmitted through the truck window after 28 years of working. If this isn’t enough to make you want to start wearing sun protection regularly, we are not sure what will.

Knowing that there are a lot of myths and confusion surrounding the usage of sunscreen, here are the essential things you need to know about sunscreen and what to look for to keep your skin under protection.

DO use a broad-spectrum sun protection

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Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is part of the sun’s light spectrum that reaches the Earth. UV radiation breaks down by its wavelengths. There are three types of UV rays: UVA, UVB and UVC. They decrease in length, from A to C, but increase in intensity – the shorter the wavelength, the higher the potential of damage.

While UVC is absorbed by the atmosphere, UVA and UVB rays reach the Earth’s surface and cause various types of skin damage. For instance, UVA rays prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkling and age spots; while UVB rays burn your skin. Nevertheless, applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen can greatly reduce their effect.

Have you ever wondered, what does SPF and PA stand for? SPF (Sun Protection Factor) indicates the level of protection from UVB rays, while PA (Protection Grade of UV-A) indicates the level of protection from UVA rays.

DO know your dosage

know your dosage
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When the product description says that it has SPF50 coverage, does it mean you can apply less of the product? No.

Bear in mind that the lab technician usually applies a specific amount of sunscreen while running the SPF rating test. Meaning to say, you need to at least apply the same amount in order to achieve the stated SPF level of the sunscreen.

Generally speaking, most adults need about 1 ounce (equivalent to a shot glass) – the minimum amount that you should be applying to fully cover the body. And as for your face, it is recommended to apply at least a dollar-sized dollop.

DO apply at least 15 minutes before going outdoors

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People tend to apply sunscreen when they’re already at the beach or at other outdoor destinations. In fact, it takes time for the product to absorb into the skin and activate its sun protection. Hence, it is recommended to apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before heading outdoors.

To make sure you won’t forget to apply sunscreen, put it near where you get dressed for the day. Take note to apply sunscreen on your neck, ears and even your scalp. These areas are easily omitted.


The golden rule is to reapply sunscreen every two hours. This applies after both swimming and sweating outdoors.

DON’T think that sunscreen is only for people with fair skin

sunscreen fairness
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You must have heard someone saying this before, “I don’t need a sunscreen because I am tanned already”.

While skin cancer rates are significantly lower in darker-skinned ethic groups, it doesn’t mean you are risk-free. Damaging UV rays penetrate all types of skin, regardless of the colour.

Although people with darker skin don’t get sunburnt as quickly as people with lighter skin, the fact is they do get sunburned. The signs are not evident, so it is harder to detect one – and that’s even more of a reason to apply sunscreen.


DON’T be fooled by high sun protection factor (SPF)

fooled protection
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 Products with high SPF tempt people to apply too little sunscreen and stay in the sun for too long. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), products with higher SPF values are “inherently misleading” and they have proposed to prohibit the sale of sunscreens with SPF values greater than 60+.

Taking into account our tropical weather, it is recommended to apply sunscreen with at least SPF30 on normal days. If you are planning to spend an extended time outdoors, do opt for higher SPF, such as SPF50.

DON’T use or keep expired sunscreen

expired sunscreen
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One myth you shouldn’t believe is that your sunscreen won’t expire. Wearing an expired sunscreen not only fails to provide you the stated sun protection benefits, it also puts your skin at a higher risk of getting skin cancer.

With that, don’t hoard your sunscreen because of crazy discounts, and you must have the habit of checking the expiry date printed on the product before buying.

On a side note, storing your sunscreen in warm areas will cause the active ingredients to lose its skin-protecting properties, leading to faster expiration. Just bear that in mind whenever you are about to use a product that has been on the shelf for some time.

DON’T solely rely on makeup as your sun protection

sun protection
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Although some say SPF in makeup is sufficient to protect your face from travelling to work on a normal day, dermatologists still recommend to apply actual sunscreen underneath makeup.

Remember we need to apply a certain amount of sunscreen in order to achieve its stated SPF level? Meaning to say, technically you need to load up your makeup in order to achieve the sun protection, but normally people don’t apply such a thick layer of makeup in their everyday life.

Nevertheless, SPF makeup is a great way to reapply sunscreen as you fix your makeup in between daily errands.

DON’T expect full sun protection coverage from spray-on sunscreen

spray on sunscreen

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The reason why most people love using spray-on sunscreens is because they are quick, handy and less sticky on the skin. However, they don’t provide an even layer of sunscreen on the skin as compared to lotion type sunscreen.

By using a spray applicator, there is a tendency of missing some spots without realizing it. The most conservative way is to apply sunscreen lotion, which you can visually see where the product goes on the skin to make sure all your body parts are covered evenly.

P/S: Perhaps the only body part which is better to apply using a spray-on sunscreen with is your scalp.

Know your sunscreen and most importantly, applying it religiously is the key to healthy skin. Start now and your skin will thank you.

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