It’s that time of year again when we think about protecting ourselves from the sun. Before you go outdoors, make sure you’re not making any of the following common mistakes with your sunscreen.

  1. Not wearing sunscreen on cloudy or overcast days.

    Damaging ultraviolet rays, UVA, stay at a pretty constant level all year round and all day. These rays penetrate clouds and glass. UVA causes the damage we associate with accelerated aging such as wrinkling and sagging of the skin.

  2. Not applying sunscreen until you are outside.

    How many times have you gone to the beach with the sunscreen in your beachbag and applied it after you’re sitting soaking up rays? Apply your sunscreen before you leave the house so that you are fully protected when you walk out the door.

  3. Forgetting to reapply sunscreen.

    Manufacturers’ instructions advise that you should reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. At the bare minimum, you should reapply after swimming or working out, and on your face, after eating.

  4. Habitually missing a spot when you apply sunscreen.

    After a vacation in the Caribbean where she meticulously used sunscreen to avoid any tan on her face, Laura came back with a brown stripe down the middle of her nose. She always applied sunscreen with both hands starting at the sides and working towards the middle but her hands never quite met, leaving a stripe unprotected. I’ve seen other people miss the hollow under their cheekbones or the upper lip.

  5. Using sunscreen that is too weak.

    If you are using the SPF as a guideline to how long you can stay out in the sun, you’re probably underestimating your level of protection. SPF is tested under ideal conditions, using a lot more product than we typically use. It doesn’t take into account activities that will remove the product such as exercise, swimming, physical contact, contact with clothing.

  6. Protecting the face and forgetting the body.

    Many of us get into a workday routine of applying sunscreen to our faces in the morning but leave the house with exposed and unprotected skin, such as the nape of the neck, the hands, the decolletage. It’s a good idea to wear protective clothing and to apply sunscreen to all exposed skin. Remember to reapply sunscreen after you’ve washed your hands.