7 Most Common Sunscreen Mistakes You Should Avoid | Pure Vanity Spa, Scottsdale

The shocking truth: People still are not using sunscreen despite the well-proven fact that it protects against aging. Not you? Good! Now let’s be sure you’re doing it right! Here are the most common sunscreen mistakes and how to avoid them.


First, the bad news. A study published by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that only 14% of men and 30% of women reported that they regularly use sunscreen on both their face and exposed skin. A higher percentage of women did report using sunscreen on their face regularly (43%) but apparently men haven’t gotten the memo and only 18% apply sunscreen to their faces.

And now for the really bad news. Findings reported by the Skin Cancer Foundation show that an estimated 90% of skin aging is caused by the sun.

Let’s say that together OUT LOUD: Ninety Percent!

Hard to believe? Take a look at this:

So while our industry still has work to do to educate the general public on the connection between aging and sun protection (not to mention, skin cancer), let’s all agree that if you’re reading this now, you’re among those who get it and are taking measures to protect you skin. And we applaud you for that.

Now, let’s make sure you’re doing it right. According to the Environmental Working Group, here the most common sunscreen mistakes people make along with what to do instead.

Mistake #1: Relying on sunscreen alone for sun protection

Sunscreen helps protect your skin from sun damage, but don’t think of it as your only line of defense. Along with applying sunscreen, cover exposed skin with protective clothing, hats and sunglasses. Look for shade when you’re outdoors and plan your outdoor excursions to avoid the peak midday sun. EWG’s Practice Smart Sun guide offers tips on choosing the best clothing and sunglasses for sun protection.

best sunglasses for sun protection

Mistake #2: Using a sunscreen with potentially toxic ingredients

Common sunscreen ingredients can do more harm than good. Oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen, can disrupt the hormone system. Retinyl palmitate, can cause damage to skin exposed to the sun. Methylisothiazolinone, a potent allergen, has been linked to painful rashes. Instead, look for a sunscreen with zinc or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient. Our Sensible Sunscreen SHADE with SPF 28 contains both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to physically block UV rays along with botanical ingredients to soothe skin.

Sensible Sunscreen SHADE with SPF 28

Mistake #3: Not applying enough

Chances are, you’re not applying enough sunscreen. Product testers apply a surprisingly thick coat to the skin to determine its SPF – the equivalent of a family using up a four-ounce bottle in just two hours outdoors. Under-application means you won’t get the advertised protection. Dermatologists recommend a minimum of one ounce to cover exposed skin, or more depending on your body size. Don’t forget hard-to-reach places like your ears and scalp (especially for kids won’t keep their hats on). Use a lip balm or lipstick with SPF as well. Most experts agree that for the most uniform application, avoid aerosol sprays and opt for lotions instead.

Mistake #4: Not reapplying

One coat of sunscreen is not enough for one day. Sunscreens absorb into the skin and lose effectiveness over time, especially in water. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends reapplying at least every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. And read the directions on your sunscreen’s label for more guidance. “Water resistant” sunscreens provide coverage for up to 40 minutes in water while ones labeled as “very water resistant” work up to 80 minutes.

reapply sunscreen

Mistake #5: Too high SPF

More isn’t necessarily better. Research shows that high SPF sunscreens (greater than 50+) mislead people into thinking they are more protected from sun damage than they really are, and offer a poor balance between UVA and UVB protection. That’s just part of the reason SPF values are capped at 50+ in Europe, Australia, Canada and Japan. Instead, stick with sunscreens with SPF values no higher than 50. And remember: high SPF is no excuse to prolong your time in the sun.

Mistake #6: Applying sunscreen when you’re already outdoors

Sunscreen takes approximately 15 minutes to absorb into your skin. If you’re already exposed to sun when applying it, harmful rays are already hitting your skin. Your better bet is to get a head start. Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you and your family will be exposed to sunlight. Allow additional time with kids to avoid transferring the sunscreen to the carseat or stroller.

reapply sunscreen after sweating

Mistake #7: Using an old, separated or expired sunscreen

As sunscreens age, or repeatedly heat and cool (think: home cabinet to poolside, then back again), the formulation can separate or clump in its container. When this happens, the sunscreen won’t coat your skin in the way that’s necessary for proper skin protection. Instead, shake sunscreens before applying, discard products after their expiration date and store sunscreens at an even temperature whenever possible (for example, in your bag instead of a hot car). Sunscreens generally last about three years, the amount of time the Food and Drug Administration requires them to retain their original effectiveness. Toss any product if it clumps or if the oil separates from the lotion.

With that, let’s raise a glass of chilled cucumber water to summer!

If you have questions about sunscreens or any of our anti-aging products or services, call the Pure Vanity Spa team at (480) 419-8267 and we will be happy to help!

Article reprinted with permission by EWG.