Everyone who knows me knows that I am fanatical in my quest to make the world wear more sunscreen. They say to pick your battles, and this is the one I have chosen.
The sun is not your friend. You can’t change my mind.
Unprotected sun exposure will make you a prematurely old, wrinkly, spotted husk of your formerly youthful self. No thanks!
So, with that very dramatic foundation laid, let me also say this: I know you’re not reapplying sunscreen every two hours like experts recommend.
How do I know? Because I don’t even do that unless I’m actively outside all day.
So, in order to reconcile my laziness with my obsessive need to keep the sun away from me (seriously, I burn if I even think too hard about sunlight), I’ve come up with a list of sun protection hacks and workarounds.
To reconcile my laziness with my obsessive need to keep the sun away, I’ve come up with some sun protection hacks.
Should you take the time to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours? Yes, unless you’re inside. But if that’s just not feasible for you, then I suggest trying these sneaky sun protection hacks instead.
Make UPF your BFF
(I’m about to share my absolute favorite sunscreen hack of all time. Get ready.)
So you’ve likely seen UPF ratings on certain workout clothes and swimsuits, but you might not know what they mean. SPF stands for “sun protection factor,” and it measures how effective your sunscreen is at blocking harmful UVB rays. These are the ones that burn your skin. UPF stands for “ultraviolet protection factor,” and it measures how effective a fabric is at blocking UV rays from penetrating through to your skin. Essentially, you can think of it like a fabric sunblock rating. UPF measures protection from UVA (which contributes to premature aging and skin cancer) as well as UVB.
UPF ratings typically range from 5-50. The average cotton T-shirt has a UPF of about 5, which means that it only blocks a very small percentage of UV rays. In contrast, clothing with a 30-50+ rating can block 93-99% of UVA and UVB rays. Anything lower than UPF 15 is not considered protective, so you won’t see this label anywhere.
If you’re shopping for UPF rated clothing, I’ll be honest. Most of it is either sporty, beachy, or flat-out ugly. I like to have UPF workout clothing and beach coverups, but I also like to have decent protection when I’m wearing cardigans, dresses, and cute clothes, too!
So what’s a girl to do? Well! A few summers ago I discovered that UPF sprays and dyes are a thing that you can buy. Not gonna lie, I was jump-up-and-down excited about this discovery.
Dyes* like Rit Sun Guard and sprays like Trek7 Ray Bloc offer a super simple way to turn (almost) anything you own into extra sun protection. Both Sun Guard and Ray Bloc add UPF 30 to treated fabrics, and each lasts for multiple washes!
*Even though it’s labeled as a dye, Sun Guard is colorless, odorless, and doesn’t actually change the look or feel of your clothes. It just gives that sweet, sweet sun protection.
Cover Up Creatively
Listen, I hate summer. I am not built for hot weather. I get grouchy and sweaty, and I have no desire to wear anything that will make me grouchier or sweatier.
So, when I say “cover up,” I don’t mean to hide every inch of skin whenever you leave the house. Rather, I’m talking about little tricks that will keep you out of direct sunlight, like these.
1. Use a UPF drape when you’re riding in the car (or on public transit)
You can buy swaths of plain UPF 50 fabric from craft stores, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, anywhere that sells crafty stuff. It’s not expensive! I keep my “car blanket” folded up either in my passenger side door or in my purse if I’m riding with someone else. It protects my legs and arms from getting burnt, and it keeps me cool!
2. Get a cute UPF umbrella
I was gifted an adorable UPF 50 umbrella for Christmas this year, and I absolutely love it for walks. It’s noticeably cooler under the umbrella, and it also ensures that people don’t get too close to me when I’m out. Win-win.
The best part is that they’re excellent for rainy weather too, so you can carry it regardless of what the forecast calls for!
3. Embrace big hats and big shades
If I’m wearing a sun hat, it has to be big enough to cover my shoulders. Seriously, I’ll pay more for that. And then I’ll spray it with Ray Bloc.
Okay yes, that might be a little too extra for some of you, and I accept this. But I stand by my suggestion of rocking the biggest sun hat that you feel comfortable in.
The same goes for big sunglasses. The bigger and darker your shades are, the more of your face you’re protecting! Less sun means less squinting, so we’re staving off those crow’s feet just a little longer, too.
Don’t Be Shy, Reapply!
If you do actually want to reapply sunscreen to your face or body during the day, I’m going to make a suggestion that seemingly goes against what most beauty gurus say, which is SPF50/PA++++ or don’t bother.
I’ve found that, with body sunscreen especially, it’s better to make a small SPF sacrifice in favor of finding a formula that doesn’t feel disgusting. For reapplication, I like to keep a lightweight gel or spray sunscreen in my bag that’s usually around SPF30. This is usually the sweet spot of decent UV protection and a cosmetically elegant formula. Neutrogena HydroBoost sun gel and Neutrogena DryTouch spray are my drugstore go-to’s for this.
I don’t have a perfect reapplication technique for your face, but spraying clean hands with sunscreen and patting the high spots gently (forehead, nose, chin) is usually good enough for me on a regular day.
And there you go! I hate reapplying sunscreen, but I also hate getting burned. So I hope that my sun protection hacks discovered from years of Sun Protection Science (trademark pending) can help you avoid sun damage like it’s your job, too.