5 basic mistakes you're making with sunscreen Advertisement

5 basic mistakes you’re making with sunscreen

By ELLE team  February 22nd, 2017

So you slather on some ‘screen before heading out and promptly forget about sun protection for the rest of the day? Best not bring that up around dermatologist Kiran Lohia. If you’ve been hiding behind the safety net of SPF 15, she’s got news for you: Sun protective factor does not determine how strong the sunscreen is, but how long it keeps you safe. That doesn’t mean SPF 100 will have you covered for the day. Sweat and normal wear means you will have to reapply every 3 hours, whatever the number on the tube.

 As the brutal summer approaches, we got Dr. Lohia to part with her best skincare tips:

Not choosing the correct base

Time for a closer look at the fine print, folks. A mineral base contains compounds like zinc oxide that create a physical barrier between skin and sun.

Pro: Very safe for sensitive skin

Con: Can leave a white, oily cast

A chemical base, on the other hand, contains compounds that absorb and break down UV rays.

Pro: Sheer, non-greasy finish

Con: Slight risk of reaction

Not using sunblock often enough

Repeat after us slowly: You’re going to need sunscreen if you are...

  • Going to be outdoors in the sun for more than 20 minutes.
  • Indoors, but with a lot of natural light coming through. While UVB cannot penetrate glass much, UVA can.
  • Swimming. Reapply every two hours, even if your sunscreen says it’s water-resistant.

Missing out on important components

In a nutshell, your sunblock needs to provide armour against:


Their visible damage is restricted to the outer layer of skin – redness, sunburn and tanning. However, research has found that these are key culprits in causing skin cancer. Combat UVB by only opting for sunblock above SPF 30.


These rays hit deeper layers of your skin, causing long-term damage. As the damage increases, the furrows on your face do, too. Your sunscreen needs to include PA ++ to protect you against UVA.

Not using enough

Rule of thumb: You require about two milligrams of sunscreen per square centimetre of skin, which works out to six sprays on just the face and about a shot glass’ worth (two tablespoons) on all exposed areas of the body.

Not picking according to your skin type

The thing with sunscreens is that they fall under the one-size-fits-all category. Identify your skin type before you make an over-the-counter purchase.

Oily: Pick a mattifying gel or spray

Normal: Opt a light lotion or spray

Dry: Look for a hydrating cream or lotion