Kick UV Rays To The Curb...COVID-19 Edition

Despite stay-at-home orders, I’ve found myself outside more often, treasuring these moments we’ve been given and taking time to do all the things I’ve been meaning to do. I know many of you are in the same boat. We’re gardening, cycling, and taking our dog on longer walks. When we aren’t outside, we’re on the couch reading a book by the window, checking our seedlings for sprouts, or taking a nap somewhere. I also have to admit, I love a sunny home, so through all this madness I’m keeping the blinds open and letting in as much sunlight as possible. With all these activities around the home, all these walks, all the sun, I make a conscious effort to protect my skin from UV rays, because wherever we are or whatever we’re doing, we’re exposing ourselves to these environmental irritants. As an esthetician, when considering excessive, unprotected exposure, I have to remind myself that just one sunburn in a child increases the chances of melanoma as an adult by 2-fold and chronic UV exposure accounts for nearly 80% of aging in skin. Even when I’m home, I know harmful rays can penetrate through windows and cause premature aging. I hate to be that person, but when you’ve put so much hard work into your skin, I don’t want it to be potentially undone during this time period due to excessive sun exposure… so I want to take this opportunity to refresh ourselves on how to protect our skin from external aggressors.


How To Enjoy The Sun, Guilt-Free

A few ways we can protect ourselves (and our skin) from the sun are through the use of sunscreen, hats, and long-sleeved shirts. Sunscreen is, by far, one of the best methods of sun protection and, when paired with Vitamin C, preventative aging. A Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, value of 15 or higher is recommended for face and body for minimal protection. Personally, I like to recommend SPF 30 or more for good measure. When considering SPF, think about how quickly it takes for your skin to sunburn and whether or not you’re applying enough sunscreen. There are many interpretations in terms of what the SPF number means, but one of the easiest ways to think of it is, “SPF x will allow me to prolong sunburning for x amount of minutes.” So if sunburning comes easily, say 10 minutes of sun exposure, a SPF 50 sunscreen will allow 50 more minutes until burning becomes a worry. But in order for the SPF 50 to truly protect as a SPF 50, you need to make sure enough sunscreen is applied. It’s been internationally recognized that 2 mg/cm2 of the face is the appropriate amount of sunscreen needed in order to receive the protection value listed on bottles of sunscreen.

Yes. 2 mg/cm2!

If you want to know what that looks like, BEHOLD.

A good rule of thumb is to disperse sunscreen in a line along your pointer and middle fingers from your palmar crease to the tips of your fingers. Ya’ll, this is just for your face. This is also why it’s so important to utilize more than one approach to sun protection, especially for the body. Luckily, sunscreen is easy to apply and layers extremely well with other sun protection methods.


Hats are a popular and stylish choice for protecting your skin from UV rays. Copious amounts of different styles are available, made with whatever material in all the colors you can dream of (wide-brim hats have a special place in my heart). When you’re feeling sporty and need a wider field of vision, visors are also a great way to block the sun, though you end up missing a bit of coverage on the sides of your face. Hats and visors are quick and easy to use when you step outside for a prolonged amount of time and need extra protection. Wearing long-sleeved shirts is also an effective way to protect the skin on your body and will provide an even amount of coverage on the skin.

Recently, Durham’s chilly weather has made wearing long sleeves fairly easy, but I know this won’t last forever. Long-sleeved shirts is an uncommonly practiced method of sun protection, considering how hot and humid North Carolina can get during summer. In mild weather, it’s an easy way to protect against UV rays. Long sleeves provide an even amount of coverage to the skin and helps to create a physical barrier from the sun. When layered on top of sunscreen, it protects against the sun even more effectively. Over the years, the fashion industry has become more and more hi-tech, with brands even debuting UV protective clothing items, with enough to touch on every category in your wardrobe. This goes to show how much more aware people are of the effects of the sun.

Once fully and properly adapted into your skincare routine, the results will last you a lifetime.

Obviously, I’ve been itching to relay this information, but we’re finally getting to the good part: recommendations. Sunscreen is definitely one of the hardest skincare products to recommend because it’s so personal. When you find The One, you find The One, and these sunscreens are many others’ The Ones.


What I Use

Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 is The One for face. This beautifully tinted sunscreen glides effortlessly on the skin to protect against UV rays and perfect the skin tone. It provides a gorgeous healthy glow that diffuses away fine lines and wrinkles. With this sunscreen, I find the later it is, the more I feel like my skin looks better. During summer time when I get a little more sun, I like to mix in a bronzed sunscreen to even out the color so I don’t look so washed out (shown below). Due to the radiant nature of this sunscreen, I find it’s more suitable for skin types that range anywhere from combo to dry. For combo to oily skin types, the Skinceuticals Physical Matte UV Defense SPF 50 is the perfect counterpart for a mattified, perfected look.

If you follow suit, please be sure to use a bronzed sunscreen. If using a regular bronzer, the SPF value will be diluted.

For the body, I love to layer on moisturizing sunscreens! In all honesty, the body sunscreens I use are actually facial sunscreens, but they come in such generous sizes, I thought, “why not spread the love?” Typically moisturizing sunscreens provide a slight glisten and you end up with a gorgeous JLo glow. Over the past month, I spear-headed my way through Bioelements Ray Defense SPF 30. The tube aspect of the sunscreen makes application quick and easy. It leaves the skin moisturized without feeling greasy and with no. white. cast. Another favorite is Skinceuticals Light Moisture UV Defense SPF 50. It absorbs into the skin beautifully and is similarly moisturizing to Bioelements Ray Defense. Both products are lovely choices for non-tinted sunscreens and can be used by the whole family.

When I’m out in the garden, I typically wear a sun visor. Unfortunately there isn’t much shade available to take refuge in and I love this one from Amazon because of how it covers part of the shoulders and back. It’s foldable and compact, so it’s perfect to take to the beach, on picnics, or to store in the car for “just in case” moments. For something sportier, this UV-protective visor does just the trick. If you’re feeling a bit more stylish, this floppy hat will make you want to put on your favorite sundress and order a croissant at the bakery. With long-sleeved shirts, UNIQLO has really pioneered sun protective clothing with their UV Protection line, which ranges anywhere from jackets, to dresses, to pants.

In these times of self-isolation, it’s refreshing to take a step back and see how many people are so aware of the importance of sun protection. It thrills me how the fashion industry has stepped up to sun protection and I love how sunscreen has become a necessary part of everyone’s skincare routines. So while we’re stuck at home, let’s take a little time to care for ourselves, each other, and our skin. And don’t forget the sunscreen!