SPF Tips: 3 Unexpected Sun Care Steps To Keep Your Skin Healthy
We're in the throes of spring—and with it, the promise of better weather, more outdoor time, and shedding layers of clothing. I, for one, welcome this change. Long, drawn-out winters beget happy springs and summers, no? And with my renewed dedication to spending as much time outside as I possibly can come a few skin care tweaks. Namely, I need to be more diligent about sun care.
Yes, I know that SPF is just as important in the winter as it is in summer (don't worry; we've written that story too!). And I know that you should apply sunscreen even when indoors, especially if you're sitting by a window and exposed to natural lighting. But the truth is, I am simply not exposed to as much UV in the winter since my home office doesn't have windows and the sun sets too early to accompany me on my post-work walks.
But now that I know I'm in contact with more UV rays, I also know it's time to rework my sun care routine. Recently, I learned a few tricks that have really helped me. Now? I'll pass them on to you:
Stick to the two-finger rule.
A vital part of smart sun care is user behavior: We know that using SPF correctly plays just as much of a role as does the product. Sure, you may have a moisturizer with an SPF of 50, but that number quickly dwindles if you're not using enough. As board-certified dermatologist Angelo Landriscina, M.D., notes over TikTok, "The SPF of any product is based on using 2 milligrams per centimeter-squared on your skin, which is about half a teaspoon for the entire face."
And because pulling out measuring spoons for your skin care routine every morning isn't, well, ideal—we have another viral tip for you. As esthetician Tiara Willis explained over her Instagram, @makeupforwomenofcolor, you can use the handy two-finger rule. In the photo, she shows the pointer and middle finger, each with a line of SPF down the full length. "The two-finger rule equates to ¼ to ½ teaspoon, which can be used for your face and neck. Less product used also equals less SPF you actually have on," she says.
Here's a classic beauty tip that's worth repeating: If you're heading out on a sunny day, grab your shades. Not only do they protect your eyes from harsh sunlight, but they also keep you from doing one very specific thing: squinting. Repeated motions can turn into fine lines over time, and this is especially true of the delicate eye area. The skin here is very fragile and susceptible to the first signs of aging. So grabbing your favorite pair isn't just a sartorial statement, it's a skin care one too.
Use a makeup sponge to blend SPF over makeup.
I'm going to be honest with you: One of my personal biggest obstacles to reapplying sunscreen is I don't know how to do it over makeup. Sure, you can reach for powders to pat on midday (and they are a good fix, if I do say so), but sometimes I'm looking for that soft, dewy look that loose minerals tend to blot and mattify away.
Well, as beauty writer Hannah English shared in a recent Instagram post, you can actually achieve that soft-focus filter look with an SPF and a microfiber beauty sponge. In the video, she takes a makeup blender and applies her SPF of choice directly onto a dry sponge (dry is key, she notes, as a wet one will dilute the potency). Then she gently pats and presses the formula into the skin, over the makeup. Remember: SPF's purpose is to sit on the skin, protecting cells from UV damage, so it doesn't matter that it's sitting over makeup.
After she does this for the whole face, she lets the product set and dry for a minute or so—before going back over it with her bronzer and blush with a powder brush. This helps blend the product in while also fixing any makeup that the sunscreen may have messed up.
Sometimes, the buzzy and weird tips do work. And when it comes to sun care, the more helpful tips, the merrier.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.