By now, we know that wearing sunscreen every day is so important. Protecting your skin against damaging UV rays is crucial to reducing your risk of developing skin cancer. Plus, it will stop your skin from aging faster. Yep, sun exposure can really speed up the process. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, sun damage over time can lead to changes like wrinkles, age spots, loose skin, spider veins, and a blotchy or ruddy complexion.
And while there are a lot of variables that come with choosing a sunscreen—chemical or mineral, SPF levels, different types of formulas—the general rule of thumb is pretty easy to remember. “Making sure that your sunscreen product is broad-spectrum and of an SPF of at least 30 is the most important,” says Joel Cohen, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and director of AboutSkin Dermatology in Denver, Colorado.
So we’re all in agreement that sunscreen is a crucial skincare step. But we’re also all human, and sometimes you might forget to apply it. Or you might skip over some body parts when you’re in a rush. I like to consider myself pretty diligent about applying sunscreen every day, but I recently spent a day by the pool and thought I had gotten every nook and cranny of my body, only to find my shoulders sunburned at the end of the day. It happened five days ago, and I’m still feeling much guilt about it.
One mistake that can lead us to forget? It might be that you don’t have a sunscreen that you’re comfortable wearing, that’s easy to use, or that works with your skin. Making sure you have a sunscreen that you actually like wearing makes a big difference—and that comes down to personal preference sometimes. “Many people find it easier to have a product that contains their daily moisturizer as well, as that removes one additional step from their morning regimen,” Cohen says. “Conversely, many people with oily skin want a product that does not add emollience or moisture to their skin. Cosmetic elegance is critically important, as patients will not use their SPF every morning if it is thick or uncomfortable on the skin.”
This can be especially true if you have a skin condition that might make things irritated or uncomfortable, like eczema, acne-prone skin, or rosacea. If you have a sunscreen product that annoys your skin even more, you might dread wearing it.
When it comes to rosacea, Cohen says the formulation type doesn’t really affect the outcome, but there are some things to keep in mind when you’re choosing a sunscreen, which he outlined below for us.
Well, this is a guideline for everyone, but it’s especially important for people with rosacea. “Since inflammation is a cause and an outcome in rosacea, it is really important that the application of sunscreen every morning becomes a habit,” Cohen says. “Reducing the inflammation caused by UV exposure can really help to reduce flares in rosacea patients. And remember to reapply every two hours, or more frequently if sweating, swimming or toweling off.”
“It is important to avoid products with unnecessary synthetic fragrances as these can cause irritation,” Cohen advises. The same goes for dyes, too.
Cohen says that added antioxidants might be helpful for reducing inflammation and any damage caused by UV radiation.
These are beneficial because they don’t clog pores, Cohen says.
“Using a product that has a natural tint can be nice to minimize any facial redness you may be experiencing,” Cohen suggests.
Cohen says there are some sunscreens that have oils that are used to cover up the sunscreen smell. He advises against stocking up on those, as they can clog pores.
Need more options for sunscreens? Take a look at some of Cohen’s and our picks: