Sunscreen is not like highlighter make-up, unless, of course, you regularly slather highlighter makeup all over your face and exposed parts of your body. But one of the “highlights” of a recently-released video for Vogue on Gwyneth Paltrow’s “everyday” skin care routine was how the actress and Goop founder applied sunscreen to her face. Paltrow told viewers, “And I’m not, you know, I’m not a sort of head-to-toe slatherer of sunscreen, but I like to put some kind of on my nose and the area where the sun really hits.” Meanwhile, as you can see in the following video, she appeared to apply sunscreen as if it were highlighter make-up, only to her nose and selected portions of her cheekbones:
Not a sort of head-to-toe slatherer of sunscreen? Isn’t that a bit like saying that you are “not a sort of wear clothes to work” type of person?
Applying sunscreen only to selected areas is not how you are supposed to apply sunscreen. Would you build a roof on your house only where the sun really hits? Or wear a suit of armor only where you think your opponent really strikes you? Or wear a suit or dress to a business meeting that only covered your naughty bits? Ok, the last one may depend on what type of business you are in and whether you really would like to keep your job.
The point is that you can’t control where the sun may hit your face and other exposed parts of your body, unless you happen to be wearing a Deadpool costume. It would be odd to keep your face locked in one position throughout the day, telling people, “I can’t nod or look over there right now because I don’t have sunscreen all over my face.” Plus, the sun’s position in the sky does change throughout the day so forget about saying, “I will be able to tilt my head in sympathy for your break-up between the hours of 12 noon and one o’clock.”
Moreover, unlike a laser beam from space, the sun’s rays go all over the place. That’s why everything is bright when the sun is in the sky. Otherwise, the outside would look like more like some spot-lit scenes from the Broadway show Hamilton. Additionally, without ultraviolet (UV) ray detection vision super powers, you can’t always clearly see when and where the sun’s rays are hitting you. Even when it’s cloudy or overcast outside, the sun can still bathe you in UV rays. And UV rays can damage your skin, which in turn can lead to skin cancer and, gasp, earlier aging.
That’s why the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Association advises that you “apply enough sunscreen to cover all skin that clothing will not cover.” That means if you are running around outside wearing nothing but a thong and perhaps some kind of top, you will have to slather on sunscreen “head-to-toe,” including all four of your cheeks. The AAD website also says, “most adults need about 1 ounce — or enough to fill a shot glass — to fully cover their body.” Note that this does not mean that you should pour sunscreen into a shot glass and drink it. Don’t drink sunscreen, or disinfectant for that matter.
The trouble is “most people only apply 25-50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen,” according to the AAD. The sun protection factor (SPF) rating of sunscreen is based on two milligrams of sunscreen being applied per square centimeter of skin. So even if you were to use sunscreen with a recommended SPF of 30 or higher, using less than the two milligram amount per square centimeter of skin could provide an effective SPF of less than 30. As is the case with avocado, both the amount and where you put sunscreen matters.
Be aware of all parts of your body. Your neck, your ears, and the top of your head are parts of your body and have skin. If any of these are not true then see a doctor as soon as you can. Even if your nickname is “no neck,” you still probably have a neck. Another commonly missed location when it comes to applying sunscreen are the tops of your feet, assuming that you aren’t wearing snowboarding boots. And your lips can develop cancerous lesions too, no matter how much filler you have put in them. Therefore, use lip balm or lipstick with a SPF of 30 or higher as well.
Oh, and apply sunscreen to your skin at least 15 minutes before you go outdoors. Would you wait until your were on a date, in an interview, or in a work meeting and say, “oh, that’s right, I need to put on some clothes. Should I just wear clothes where your eyes will really hit?” Make sure that your skin is dry before smearing on sunscreen. Otherwise, you may be just like a melting creamsicle and lose your protection. Unlike you do with clothes, you should keep reapplying sunscreen every two hours while you are outside. Unless you stay perfectly still while outdoors, which would be really weird during a date or a job interview, your movements and body moisture may progressively remove the sunscreen. Should you go swimming, use a jacuzzi, or sweat excessively such as when seeing a large pie, don’t wait to reach the two hour mark before re-applying sunscreen. Follow the directions on the bottle.
Remember the word “screen” in sunscreen. It is supposed to be a barrier between the sun’s UV rays and your skin. All of your skin, not just the parts of the skin that you pay attention to in the mirror. Sunscreen is not the same as make-up. After all, preserving your looks shouldn’t be the only purpose of wearing sunscreen. It’s also used to protect your health against skin cancer. And, no, you can’t just make that up.