What you’re actually doing to your skin when you skip that sunscreen step

Importance of wearing sunscreen

Advertorial: Big mistake. Big. Huge.

Editor / September 04 2019

Would you forgive us if we told you yet again how important daily sunscreen application is?

We know that we’re kinda being broken records here, but the thing is, the hope is that the more we drill it into you, the more it’ll become a habit. 

Why do we want that? Well, we’re not trying to single-handedly contribute to the growth of the facial sunscreen category. There are actually some pretty big implications if you don’t apply sunscreen in the morning (and reapply it during the day).

What happens if I skip the sunscreen step?

Sunscreen is a pretty big player when it comes to your skin health (above and beyond the other things you should be doing to protect your skin, like wearing a hat and protective clothing and avoiding being outdoors for extended periods of time). 

Besides the fact that sunscreen helps lower the risk of skin cancer and melanoma, which is a very big deal, it also reduces pigmentation and helps prevent premature ageing of the skin.  

Think of it like this: You could spend hundreds of dollars on serums, treatments and lotions to reduce the appearance of things like lines and wrinkles, improve skin firmness and elasticity, and even out skin tone and texture or you can make a MUCH smaller investment in a sunscreen that you can apply daily to help slow down the ageing process and prevent the signs of ageing for a bit longer. 

We do, however, understand if a few of you had some, “But what if…” follow-up questions, like, “But what if it’s raining outside?” or “But what if it’s winter and the UV index is low?”  

So, here’s the story. While you may not be able to see or feel UV radiation, you can still be exposed to high levels on overcast or rainy days. This is because up to 80 per cent of the sun's UV rays can pass through clouds (that’s why you can still end up with sunburn on an overcast day).   

As for the low UV index thing, don’t think of it as permission to take a day off. A UV level as little as three is considered high enough to damage the skin, so you should be wearing sunscreen even in winter.

Want to keep track of the UV index? Real time UV levels for capital cities can be tracked via the UV Mate smartphone app or just on the Bureau of Meteorology website.

How can I make sunscreen more ‘wearable’?

Every one of us has tried a sunscreen that feels too thick, too goopy, too drying, too smelly, or even too incompatible with makeup. So it’s no wonder it feels easier to forgo the step altogether. But if you’ve absorbed anything from reading the above, you really, really shouldn’t be skipping it. So, what’s a girl to do? 

Luckily, not all facial sunscreens are created the same and there are some incredibly reliable brands that sit very comfortably on skin and work well with makeup. 

One of the most widely-applauded sunscreens for daily wear is La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra-Light Fluid SPF50+. Not only did it get 4.5 stars from our Review Crew®, but ask almost any beauty editor about it and you’ll get all the validation you need that it’s a goodie. Why? It’s dermatologically approved, offers SPF50+ broad-spectrum protection that can even protect through glass and clouds (which, as we’ve discussed, can cause premature ageing and skin damage), and the lightweight texture of the fluid basically goes against everything you’ve ever thought about sunscreen. Instead of a greasy, heavy, or sticky cream, it blends easily into skin and absorbs quickly, so it feels super comfortable to wear. And while all of that is excellent on its own, here’s the bit that’ll get you – it sits brilliantly under makeup. No pilling, no greasiness, no heavy feeling. It’s basically a primer that offers sun protection.  

But there’s one slight hitch: It’s best suited to normal and combination skin, so it may not be your cup of tea if you have a different skin type. BUT there’s good news. La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra-Light Fluid SPF50+ has a few sisters for different skin types – the La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Cream SPF 50+ for dry skin and the La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Anti-Shine Dry Touch SPF 50+ for oily and acne-prone skin. And all three sunscreens are fragrance-free and have been made for sensitive skin. 

Ok, I get it. So when should I apply my sunscreen and how much should I be using?

Great question, thanks for asking. 

Sunscreen should be applied after your skin care and before your makeup. We recommend leaving a good few minutes before moving from your skin care to your makeup so the product has enough time to absorb nicely. 

In regard to quantity, for everyday protection of the face, ears and neck, you need about 2.5mL to 3mL, which is approximately half a teaspoon. But don’t forget that if you are outdoors for extended periods of time, you will need to reapply the same amount every two hours (and we recommend seeking shelter as much as possible).

Don’t forget it’s not just sunscreen you need to keep your skin health in check. Avoid prolonged sun exposure and make sure you wear protective clothing, eyewear and hat. And reapply, especially if you are spending a lot of time outdoors.

Want to hear what women are saying about La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra-Light Fluid SPF50+? You can read the La Roche-Posay sunscreen reviews right here. 

Main image credit: Getty

*Contains active ingredients: Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane 5.0% w/w, Octocrylene 4.5% w/w, Drometrizole Trisiloxane 4.0% w/w, Bemotrizinol 2.0% w/w, Ecamsule 1.5% w/w. See pack for full ingredients list and detailed application instructions. Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist see your healthcare professional. Wear protective clothing, hats and eyewear when exposed to the sun. Prolonged high-risk sun exposure should be avoided.

Carli was BEAUTYcrew’s Editor from launch in 2016 until May 2020. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and previously on beautyheaven.