How to Choose and Use Sunscreen


Sunscreen is hands down THE most important skin care product you can use.  The number one cause of premature aging and damage to our skin is unprotected exposure to the sun.  Exposure to the sun can lead to wrinkles, uneven pigmentation, and in many cases skin cancers.

Short of staying indoors, your first and best defense against damage is the regular and repeated use of sun protection. 

How Do I Choose?

  • SPF-  is a measure of a product’s ability to prevent UVB rays from damaging the skin.  Look for products with an SPF 30.  Any lower SPF and you may not receive as much protection; any higher and the increased protection is negligible. 
  • Minerals- 84% of all sunscreen products are harmful to our health according to the Environmental Working Group.  Choose products with natural active ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (instead of chemicals like para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), dioxybenzone, oxybenzone, or sulisobenzone).  These minerals act as natural physical sun blocks and are not absorbed into the bloodstream the way as chemical ingredients are. In addition, they offer broad spectrum protection by blocking harmful UVA rays.  Zinc is also the only ingredient FDA approved for use on babies.
  • Price- Be aware that cost doesn’t necessarily indicate quality.  It’s all about the active ingredients, so if a less expensive brand contains those same ingredients you will receive the same protection as the pricier brand.
  • Formula-  Opt for lotion, solid, or powder formulas that are applied directly to the skin.  Sprays do not provide as much coverage, so if you must use a spray, apply twice.


How Do I Apply?

  • Application size is one full ounce!  That’s about enough to fill a shot glass or an adult handful. Don’t be stingy…in this case too much is better than not enough. Not using the proper amount most likely means you’re not protected. Be sure to shake the bottle well.
  • Apply your sunscreen 30 minutes before going out in the sun. This gives the ingredients time to protect to the skin.  Try applying at home before you head out to the pool or beach. 
  • Some studies indicate it’s a good idea to reapply your sunscreen once you’ve been in the sun for 30 minutes. This makes it more likely you’ll get the places you might have missed on the initial application.
  •  Reapplying is critical to protect yourself from sunburn so definitely reapply every two hours or after swimming, sweating or toweling off. Yes, a whole shot glass full!  An 8 ounce bottle of sunscreen should last a family of 4 only one afternoon at the beach!
  • Be sure to cover all skin exposed to the sun. Don’t forget your ears, behind your knees, and the back of your neck. 
  • Be sure to apply and reapply every day, not just sunny days, at the beach, or in summertime.  It is important to understand that the sun affects our skin while we do yard work, drive our cars, or run errands, as much as 80% of the sun’s rays can reach you on a cloudy day, and during the winter the sun is actually closer to the earth than in summer. 
  • Women using makeup containing SPF are most likely not using enough to get proper protection. Try layering your foundation with a moisturizer or finishing powder that also contains an SPF. Applying these products once in the morning will not provide you with protection by lunch time and must be reapplied. To reapply sunscreen over an already-done face, try a spray sunscreen designed specifically for the face or using a pressed powder containing an SPF.  Also available are brush-on mineral powder sunscreens that can be applied over makeup or on bare skin. 

No matter what products you use and how diligent you are in using them, some UV rays still reach the skin, so always opt for additional forms of protection such as sunglasses, and hats and visors, as well as taking frequent breaks in the shade when the sun’s rays are strongest( usually between 11am-3pm). 

 ImageFor a list of 700 name brand sunscreens and the toxins they contain go to


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Marcella Feit
    Jun 15, 2012 @ 18:56:24

    After just having a facial at Skin Care by Donna, I am thrilled with the results. Wrinkles are minimized, skin is smooth to the touch I will be going back for more. I will also take the advice Donna offers about protecting my skin from the sun, as she is very knowledgeable about skin care and always willing to answer any of my questions concerning it.
    Thank you, Donna!!


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