Have you ever noticed that you’re tanning, even though you’ve diligently applied sunscreen? And despite all your other efforts – like wearing a hat and avoiding peak sun hours – you’re still ending up with a tan (which we all know means sun damage).
There are a few things at play that may be thwarting all your hard work. We’ve narrowed them down to 4 factors and have some easy tips on how to overcome them:
Sunscreen Doesn’t Block 100% of UV Radiation
That bears repeating: no sunscreen blocks 100% of UV radiation, and sometimes we forget that:
- SPF 15 blocks 93.4% of UVB (6.6% still absorbed)
- SPF 30 blocks 96.7% of UVB (3.3% still absorbed)
- SPF 50 blocks 98.1% of UVB (1.9 % still absorbed)
It’s the reason why sunscreen should be just one part (albeit a very important one!) of your overall sun protection plan. Seeking shade, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, covering up with sun-protective clothing and avoiding the sun during peak hours will also help minimize tanning and sun damage.
You Haven’t Applied the Right Amount of Sunscreen to Minimize Tanning
In order to get the stated SPF or UVA-PF/PPD rating (Broad spectrum in North America), the recommended amount to apply each time is one ounce for the entire body or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon for the face. To be honest, most of us only apply between 20% and 50% of the recommended amount, which means we’re not getting the protection we think we’re getting.
Although it can be challenging to do the full 1/4 teaspoon, try this next time: apply what you normally would, then wait a few minutes for it to absorb before applying the remaining amount. This way, you’ll get better coverage, especially if you’ve missed a few spots on the first go-round.
You Haven’t Reapplied Frequently Enough
Wouldn’t it be great to apply sunscreen once in the morning and have lasting protection all day? Once-a-day sunscreen would be the ultimate dream, but the truth is that sun filters can rub off, mix with sweat and run off.
To maximize protection against tanning, reapply every 2 hours or immediately after swimming, towelling off or sweating excessively.
Your Sunscreen Doesn’t Have Enough UVA Protection
SPF ratings on sunscreen refer to Sun Protection Factor, a rating system that measures the length of time a sunscreen will protect you from burning UVB rays compared to how long it would take you to burn with no protection whatsoever. However, it’s the UVA rays that cause tanning.
In North America, look for the words “Broad Spectrum” as an indication that the sun filters used in the formulation protect from both UVB and UVA rays. If you want to be more specific, look for a mixture of sun filters, including those that target UVA rays, like Mexoryl SX, Tinosorb M, Tinosorb S, Uvinul A Plus and Avobenzone.