You’ve been applying sun cream wrong the whole time

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    Hello, I’m Paula Begoun, founder of the skincare line Paula’s Choice, and I’m back with my next column as the Marie Claire Skincare Master. In my columns I will de-bunk skin myths, let you in on skincare secrets and tell you exactly which ingredients the skincare industry is currently obsessed with and why.

    With the weather so beautiful in the UK at the moment, I think it’s essential we chat about how to look after your skin in the sun.

    Suncare and skincare

    If you want to prevent signs of aging or reduce the appearance of those tell-tale signs you already have and prevent skin cancer the daily application of a broad spectrum sun cream with an SPF 30 or greater is essential. “Daily” means every day, rain or shine, whether you’re inside or outside. The bad rays of the sun even come through windows and most shockingly sun damage begins within the first minute skin is exposed to daylight.

    Sun cream – the dos and the don’ts

    DO Start them young. Use sun cream on babies from birth onwards. Pediatricians recommend they wear sun cream if their skin is exposed to daylight. It’s best to use a pure mineral based sun cream for babies, where the only active ingredients are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, because of how extremely gentle they are on young skin.

    DON’T Go low. Use sun creams rated SPF 30 or greater. That’s the minimum rating recommended by medical boards worldwide.

    DO Apply sun cream liberally as the last step of your morning skincare routine. Any skincare product you apply over a sun cream dilutes it and reduces its effectiveness.

    DON’T Be afraid of sun creams. Be more afraid of sun damage. You may have heard horror stories about some synthetic sun cream ingredients and if you are concerned about those, a pure mineral SPF 30 should allay your fears and protect your skin.

    DO Apply makeup over sun cream as makeup does not absorb into skin, it stays on the surface. Layering sun creams can help ensure you’re getting enough protection so try using a primer, foundation, or pressed power with SPF to add more coverage.

    DON’T Forget your neck, chest, hands, and arms if they will be exposed to daylight, too.

    DO Choose a day cream based on your skin type, with an added SPF. If you have dry skin use one with a creamy texture; if you have oily skin use a gel or fluid; if you have combination skin, look for a gel or lotion texture.

    How to apply sun cream the right way

    • Applying sun cream isn’t simple. But it is so important to understand exactly how to apply it, otherwise you aren’t protecting your skin properly.
    • Apply sun cream 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside and be sure it absorbs in before you get dressed. If you get dressed immediately after applying, most of it will rub off on your clothes.
    • I cannot stress enough how important it is to use the right amount. If in doubt –  always applying more than you think you need.
    • If you’re swimming or sweating you must use a water-resistant sun cream and you must reapply afterwards.
    • Aim high – go for an SPF50 in the summer.
    • If you live in areas during the winter where there are limited hours of daylight I would still not recommend going any lower than an SPF 30. No one should get used to lower SPF products.
    • This is probably the last thing you want to hear, but seek shade, wear UV-rated sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and sun-protective clothing whenever possible (it certainly ’s less expensive than applying sunscreen liberally all over an entire naked body).

    Paula’s Picks:

    For you face I recommend the follow SPFs:

    1. Estee Lauder Crescent White Full Cycle Brightening UV Protector SPF50, £45 Look Fantastic

    suncream application

    2. Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily UV Defense Mineral Sunscreen, £35 House of Fraser

    sun cream application

    3. Paula’s Choice Resist Youth Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid, £33 Look Fantastic

    Pasun cream application


    There is no better way to protect your skin from premature aging than protecting your skin from the sun.

    Make sure you’re applying it correctly.

    Until next time!

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