A great beach trip isn’t compromised by sand in our swimsuits, seaweed in our hair or tar on our feet, but being burnt to a crisp can really make it a bummer. To help us avoid being scorched by the sun during a seaside excursion in these remaining summer days, we turned to Michele Racioppi, product educator and master esthetician for the skin care brand Cosmedicine, and former senior instructor at New York’s Atelier Esthetique Institute of Esthetics, for advice on how to protect ourselves from overexposure to UVs. Here are a few of her best tips:
Use a multi-dimensional approach by layering your protection.
“We all know sunscreen is imperative. But in addition to sunscreen, more can be done to protect your skin from the sun’s rays by using a multi-dimensional approach and ‘layering up’ coverage when heading to the beach. My first layer of protection is a very water resistant broad spectrum SPF, which defends against both UVA and UVB rays. Sunglasses, a large hat and a cover-up provide another layer. At the beach, an umbrella provides even more protection. The final layer is the aftercare I give my skin when I get home.”
Apply sun protection properly.
“Before heading out for a day at the beach, I proactively apply a very water resistant broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to my face, neck, and body, always giving careful attention to all areas that will be exposed, including the back of my neck and ears. I do this before leaving the house for a couple of reasons. First, waiting to do it at the beach means my skin has been exposed without protection during a walk to the car, the drive, and the time it takes to find that perfect spot on the sand. Secondly, doing the first application of sunscreen at home is less likely to result in missed spots and allows me to be fully protected as soon as I head out.”
Take your time and follow directions to maximize sunscreen’s effectiveness.
“Closely read and understand the product’s guidelines about how much time it takes for sunscreen to become effective and when to reapply. For example, many brands recommend applying at least 15 to 30 minutes prior to exposure, and reapplication standards vary depending on the SPF and ingredients. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for proper use, and remember that reapplication is a crucial part of sunscreen’s ability to continuously protect skin throughout the day.”
Using a sunscreen on your face and neck that is specifically designed for these areas.
“Using a sunscreen created for the more delicate skin of the face, neck and ears can prevent irritation and breakouts. Another consideration is whether the sunscreen you use for the face will run into your eyes once you sweat or get hot. My go-to facial sunscreen, Even the Score by Cosmedicine, is very water resistant, non-irritating and non-comedogenic, meaning it is formulated with the intent to not cause blocked pores. It also is clinically proven not to drip or migrate, so it does not sting eyes.”
Be mindful of lip protection and its special requirements.
“Using lip balm with SPF helps to protect this delicate tissue from burning, chapping and sun damage. I am vigilant about the reapplication of lip protection, since talking, drinking and eating can rub away the balm.”
Don’t forget to protect your eyes.
“I always wear large, wide UV-blocking sunglasses as one extra layer of protection for the extremely delicate and thin skin around my eyes. According to the American Cancer Society, when purchasing sunglasses, look for UV absorption up to 400 nm or a label that reads ‘Meets ANSI UV Requirements,’ which means at least 99% of UV rays are blocked. Those labeled ‘cosmetic’ block about only 70% of UV rays. If there is no labeling, assume they do not provide any protection.”
Rock the floppy hat.
“In addition to my sunscreen, I wear a big floppy hat with a brim of three inches or greater, which not only provides sun protection, but also is flexible enough to remain on my head and stay comfortable even when sitting back in a chair. Nothing is more uncomfortable to me then when the brim bounces off the beach chair and doesn’t allow me to rest my head. The American Cancer Society recommends that you choose one with tightly woven fabric and a dark non-reflective underside, which helps protect the vulnerable scalp, face, nose and ears.”
Look for UPF and the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation.
“Oftentimes, hats, clothing and umbrellas allow light to pass through and may not provide adequate coverage; when sunlight passes through or areas are left uncovered, UVA and UVB rays can reach the skin. To be sure my hat and umbrella are protecting me as best as possible, I opt for products designed with a high UPF, [which stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor], and stamped with the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation.
At the beach, I always sit underneath a big umbrella with a high UPF to reduce the amount of direct sun exposure I’m receiving—and to keep me cool! Since sunlight reflects off surfaces such as sand, water and the sky, rays can still reach the skin while underneath, so your umbrella should always be a complement to broad spectrum sunscreen, not a replacement.
One brand I use is Rio, which has a variety of umbrellas with both high UPF and the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation.”
Rinse away salt and sand before reapplying sunscreen.
“When there is a freshwater shower at the beach or resort, I take full advantage of it! Immediately after getting out of the ocean, I fully rinse my whole body and towel-dry prior to reapplication of my sunscreen. This prevents skin irritation that can come from sand and salt rubbing the skin while reapplying sunscreen.”
Don’t underestimate aftercare.
“What happens at home is an important component to helping skin stay healthy after a day at the beach. After showering, I apply a nutrient-dense calming body lotion with ingredients like aloe vera or a body mist that helps soothe, nourish and hydrate skin. Save Your Skin from Solar Recover is a great post-beach body mist full of beautiful ingredients—such as lavender oil and roman chamomile oil—that are known to calm and soothe. On my face, I apply a nutrient-rich hydrating moisturizer. I love Cosmedicine’s Private Nurse to provide extreme hydration via Sodium Hyaluronate Crosslinked and boost skin’s healing with its nourishing MegaDose Nutritional Complex, which is composed of pomegranate, anti-oxidants, and three forms of Vitamin C.”