Skincare basics: Sunscreen

Skincare basics: Sunscreen

Sunscreen, the only true anti-aging product.

I just said it. The phrase that I despise because it’s a lie.


The fact is that if you’re living, you’re aging. There’s no way around it. To think you can stop it is a joke.

But you can slow it down, thrive, and avoid a lot of the dreaded pitfalls of aging. You can stay healthy, avoid becoming decrepit, and live a life of health and happiness for a very long time if you take good care of yourself.

As far as your skin goes, the only thing you can use to really prevent the signs of aging is sunscreen. Everything else can improve your skin, slow down the signs of aging and help lessen sun damage. But everything else can’t prevent it.

Only sunscreen can. Most of it, that is.

You see, 90% of the visible signs of aging skin are the direct result of the sun and sun damage.

Sunscreen is the most effective way of preventing sun damage. If you’re interested in knowing the details of how sunscreen works and what it does, check out these articles: The sun's rays aren't all the same and What’s spf got to do with it.

Remember, UVB rays are the ones that penetrate the outer layer of skin (epidermis) and UVA are the ones that go deeper (dermis).

UVB damage is associated with sunburn and DNA damage that can lead to hyperpigmentation and cancer.

UVA damage leads to premature aging, lined, saggy, leathery skin and, in some cases, cancer.

In so many ways, UVA rays are the sneaky ones.

They’re present every day, day in day out. Cloudy days, rainy days, snowy days, days when you’re not going to be outside that much.

They’re there. Doing deep damage to your skin.

The only good defense is to wear sunscreen every day. It should be as much a part of your morning routine as a cup of coffee.

Sunscreen and your daily skin care routine

Daily sunscreen isn’t complicated. Really.

If you wear make up, don’t count on the foundations, tinted creams or any make up with SPF to do the job for you. The current wisdom is that in practical application, the SPF in these types of products isn’t protective to the degree it should be.

SPF and UV protection

So you need a dedicated sunscreen of SPF 30 minimum. SPF only measures protection against UVB rays. In the US, there’s no labeling that gives a measure of UVA protection. Internationally, there’s the PA + system to indicate UVA protection, but it hasn’t caught on widely here yet.

But it’s widely considered that a broad spectrum (like a mineral based one) sunscreen of SPF 30 will give adequate protection from UVA rays as well.

I'm not going to talk about chemical sunblocks (oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, avobenzene, octisalate) here because, at this point, there are some concerns about the safety of them.

The good news is that there are many options available for a mineral sunscreen (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide) that doesn’t turn your face lifeguard nose white and that will work well with the rest of your skincare routine.

SPF lotion

This is the classic and most widely used form of sunscreen. Lotion works well as a stand alone sunscreen treatment and it’s great for applying to large areas of exposed skin, like your back or arms.

On your face, you apply it after your morning skincare routine. Cleanse, serum, moisturize (or your personal variation on this) then add a layer of sun lotion as the final step.

If this works for you, great. Keep it up every day

Some people don’t like the feel of sun lotion on their face. Particularly if they’re going to be putting make up over it.

Don’t skip the sunscreen. There are other options.

Powdered Sunscreen

You can now get a broad spectrum mineral sunscreen in powder form. It’s an easy way to get super sun protection.

The formulas come in a tube with a built in brush. You tap the brush, cap side down, a few times then brush the powder onto your face, neck, chest, hands, wherever. Two light coats and you’re good to go for the day, or two hours if you’re out, sweating, and active. It’s water resistant too

Keep your eye out later in the spring. SunWindSnow will be coming out with a sunscreen powder that goes on clear and light, and works like a dream.

I have to admit, I’m quite taken with sunscreen powder for its lightness, ease of use, and effectiveness.


Sunsticks are like lip balm for your face, or neck, chest, hands. A thick formula in a stick form that you glide on your stick.

I love sunsticks because I live a very harsh, dry climate. The moisturizing oils and butters in the sticks add an extra layer of protection on cold, windy, and dry days. Truthfully, I use my sunstick every day, no matter the weather. When the average humidity hovers between 28 and 40%, you need all the protection you can get.

But that’s not true everywhere in the country and users in the more humid East have mentioned it can make their skin feel heavy.

 If that’s you, you might opt for a sunscreen powder or a traditional sun lotion.

Whatever you choose, the most important thing is to find something you like and actually use it every day.

Sunscreen is the most basic of skin care necessities

You can live without serums. You can live without moisturizer. Although I wouldn’t advise it if you want healthy, beautiful skin.

You must wash your face.

 And you really need to put that sun screen on every morning. Even if you don’t care about fighting the signs of visible aging, it’s vital to protect the health of your largest and most visible organ.

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