What You're Doing Wrong When It Comes To Sun, Sunscreen And Your Skin

by Niki McGloster

Summer constantly calls for soaking up vitamin D, making sunscreen more necessary than binge-watching shows on Netflix.

Instead of guarding our skin from the galaxy's biggest (and deadliest) star, we’ve become more preoccupied with bathing in makeup or self-diagnosing benign ailments via WebMD.

The season for slathering your skin in topical sun protection, is upon us -- and so is preventing wrinkles and keeping our SPF levels on fleek.

We didn't major in FDA cosmetic labels, so Elite Daily turned to board-certified dermatologist Jessica Krant, M.D. of Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York in Manhattan and Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center to shed some (non-UV) light on the things we probably should know about sunscreen.

The added bonus? She didn't burn us.

6. "I don’t need sunscreen because of my melanin-rich skin."

“Skin color in reality is a continuous spectrum," she explains. "Even the darkest skin types are at risk for skin cancer given different combinations of genetic factors, environmental factors, and family history."

So while women with darker complexions believe anti-aging is Mother Nature’s blessing, applying SPF helps you find yor own personal fountain of youth.

No race and skin type is exempt, either.

“Sunscreen helps minimize damage from the sun's UV rays that lead to signs of aging like irregular pigmentation, fine lines and dullness," Dr. Krant said.

5. There are just way too many options, so give it to me straight: Which SPF is best?

Rule of thumb: Go high or go home.

If you want to block UV rays better than Hope Solo, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends daily use of SPF 30 or higher.

However, Krant suggests turning up the sunscreen levels to 50 so your skin knows it’s real. She explains,

The higher the SPF, the more protection you will get from the sun's UVB rays. Higher SPF sunscreens also tend to have better quality UVA protection these days.

Ideally, your go-to sunscreen should be broad spectrum, no less than SPF 30 and at least 80-minute water-resistant time.

Personal tip: Make sure you can stomach the scent to ensure regular use.

4. How much SPF is too much SPF?

While "everything in moderation" is a general life rule, it doesn't apply here.

Beauty products runneth over with SPF ingredients, and “there's no such thing as too much in terms of the effectiveness of sunscreen," Dr. Krant assures.

But, to be clear:

Layering SPFs does not add or multiply them. Some protection is better than none.

Plus, you won't have to worry about missing a spot.

3. "If I’m allergic to SPF, what’s a good, natural alternative?"

Look, there's no way around sunscreen.

If you reject sunscreen the way hip-hop does Iggy Azalea, zero in on the ingredient causing your skin to throw a fit.

"There are no pills, foods or natural oils that provide equivalent protection to real sunscreen," says Dr. Krant. "If a chemical sunscreen ingredient such as Oxybenzone is causing a true allergy, you might do perfectly well with chemical-free physical blockers, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as the sunscreen's active ingredients."

Protect your temple from the harsh sun by layering up with "sun-protective hats, sunglasses and clothing" that boast UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) 50 or more.

2. "Do I need to reapply before and after I get out of the water?"

If perspiring is on your agenda, along with pool-hopping and ocean swims, pack on a layer of sunblock for every two hours spent baking under sun rays.

And if you needed the extra oomph: "Reapplying right after swimming is a good idea," Krant says.

1. "Can I apply sunscreen over a current skin condition?"

Don't skip the sun-protecting step in your beauty routine due to some pesky skin issue.

"Although some sunscreen products will be more irritating than others, it's safe," Krant tells us. "So figure out your well-tolerated product by trial and error before going on vacay without it!"