Okay…. yes, I meant to click “publish” on this post over a week ago. And then I encountered a few backend site issues / incompatibilities (ugh, Gutenberg). So it took me a little longer than originally planned to get this post launched. But now we’re here so YAY.
In case you didn’t know, August is summer sun safety month. To be honest, I didn’t know that either until my college bestie, Kristen (aka the founder of SnappyScreen), told me earlier this month. And I immediately jumped at the opportunity to work on a post with her / shoot the sh*% with her while she tries to keep me on task and talking about sun care and all I want to do is talk about food, travels, and rehash stories from college.
If you don’t know Kristen or her company, SnappyScreen, it’s basically being a spray tan booth, but for sunscreen (and this is why she’ll never hire me as her head of marketing). There are SnappyScreen devices at tons of resorts around the world, and they even make their own sunscreen called SunStyles which you can buy anywhere that has a SnappyScreen device. Kristen’s just about the most informed sunscreen expert I’ve ever encountered, so – to be honest – 99% of the best sun safety tips I share below are actually her best sun safety tips. So…. thanks for writing my blog post for me, Kristen!
What I’m Wearing:
Romper: LOFT, sold out (similar, similar) / Hat: Tuckernuck
Earrings: Sugarfix by BaubleBar, c/o / Sunglasses: LOFT (on sale now!) / Bag: similar
Shoes: Melissa (on sale now!) / Phone Case: iDeal of Sweden, c/o
For today’s post, I decided to feature photos from way back in June, when I spent the day in Rab, Croatia. Which, coincidentally, is just about the sunniest place I’ve ever been. Honestly. The sun was shining hard all day long and the whole city is paved with white stones and filled with white stone houses. And – fun fact – white stone bounces light. So the sun was everywhere.
Thankfully, that also meant that the light was bouncing onto my face evenly, which made editing these photos a total breeze. So at least there’s that.
Before setting out for our day in Rab, I did my usual sunny day sun care routine. I put my favorite Exuviance SPF50 sunscreen all over my face, neck, and ears, before applying my makeup. To set my makeup, I used Supergoop! SPF50 setting mist (layering sunscreen like that doesn’t do anything – just FYI. It’s still SPF50, not SPF100), and then I tossed the setting mist in my bag so I could use it to easily reapply throughout the day. Finally, to finish it all off, I covered legit every inch of my body with La Roche Posay SPF60 sunscreen (which I then threw into my bag so I could reapply throughout the day). I then got dressed, grabbed my favorite sunhat and oversized sunglasses, and went on my merry little way.
But it wasn’t until I spoke with Kristen that I learned the real science behind applying sunscreen. Slash that while my routine was definitely on the right track, there were definitely things I could swap out… and I needed to get better about reapplying.
The Best Sun Safety Tips (btw these are all from Kristen!)
The Best Sun Safety Tips: Choose Your SPF Carefully
So this is something I didn’t know before speaking with Kristen: SPFs are fragments of time, not strengths. That means that SPF30 versus SPF40 is just a difference of minutes before you need to reapply. But those minutes vary person to person: you might need to reapply SPF30 less frequently than I need to reapply SPF40. It all depends on how fast you burn and your sun sensitivity (aka how soon before you need to reapply).
According to Kristen, SPF50 is your 99% threshold for time and strength (think of this as a bell curve). A lot of people (like yours truly) don’t realize this and therefore think SPF60 is a bigger number and therefore must be better than SPF50. Or that if you normally need to apply SPF50 every two hours and today you use SPF100, you therefore don’t need to reapply for four hours. Which apparently isn’t true at all. As a result, Kristen tells me that everything over SPF50 is being phased out in the not-too-distant future. Similarly, anything under SPF15 is apparently pretty useless.
So basically, the biggest thing to remember is that what works for me might not work for you. While I’m pale as can be and I need to reapply SPF50 just about every two hours on the dot, you might have the same skin tone but a higher tendency to burn and need to reapply SPF50 every hour on the hour. It might take some guesswork until you find exactly what works for you.
The Best Sun Safety Tips: Chemicals to Avoid
Did you know that certain sunscreens are actually harmful to the environment? I honestly had no idea until Kristen told me. All I knew was to avoid oil-based sunscreens since they wreck your clothes. And I figured that out the hard way. AKA I used an oil-based sunscreen earlier this summer and it wrecked this dress. UGH.
Apparently the biggest thing you want in a sunscreen is for it to be oxybenzone-free. Oxybenzone is harmful to the environment and its potentially a carcinogenic ingredient. You could exacerbate your sunburn by putting an oxybenzone-based sunscreen over a burn… and obviously nobody wants that at all ever.
Secondary chemicals to avoid include octinoxate and methyl paraben (look for “paraben-free”). Each of these three ingredients can harm the coral reefs. Which isn’t good. So don’t buy sunscreens that have these chemicals.
Next, Kristen says to look for sunscreens that are oil-free (for the super sad reason mentioned above) and alcohol-free. The latter isn’t because people are desperately drinking it like Listerine (ew that’d be so gross!): it’s because alcohol-free gets rid of that filmy feel you get with a bunch of sunscreens. And it doesn’t dry you out like most sprayable sunscreens will.
One company that does all of this really well is La Roche Posay. I’ve used their sunscreens for years (I always have some in my bag!) and I cannot recommend their sunscreens (or their skincare!!) enough.
The Best Sun Safety Tips: When to Wear Sunscreen
Short answer: always. Okay, we can go home now.
But really: apparently, even if it’s totally overcast outside, even if you have a dark complexion, you can still have skin damage from harmful UV rays. According to Kristen, some of the worst sunburns happen on cloudy days.
And, if you have a dark complexion, you need to be extra careful because typically people with darker complexions don’t realize the signs of melanoma as early as people with paler complexions do. If you have a darker complexion, make sure you apply sunscreen to your fingers, toes, and palms as these areas are particularly susceptible to sun damage.
Oh and BTW sunscreen doesn’t damage your hair: the sun does. Being out in the sun dehydrates your hair and scalp, which can lead to color fading on both dyed and natural hair. Kristen told me that the best thing to combat this drying is to look for a sunscreen that is UVA/UVB… and my hairdresser said to follow a long day in the sun with a moisturizing mask (I use this one at home and I always take a few of these with me on vacations) so your locks stay lush and shiny and princessy. #goals