We’re comin’ atcha on the Fourth of July, which means you best be firing up the grill, organizing your most patriotic outfit, and prepping to spend a glorious summer day with your favorite people reveling in all the best parts of this magical season.
(And if you’re not currently doing any of those things, don’t let us stress you out. Your presence is obviously presents enough.)
There’s a lot to love about Fourth of July celebrations, but this occasion is also a reminder that summer is well underway. And while that reminder might feel like a bit of a bummer — sorry! — it’s important to take a hot sec (see what we did there?) to step back and reflect on how the season has gone so far. Yes, you can think back on the BBQs you’ve hosted and the vacations you’ve taken and the beautiful garden you’ve grown in the backyard, but it’s also a great opportunity to check in with yourself in terms of how well you’ve been taking care of your skin over the last few months.
Whether you’ve been jetsetting around the world or simply enjoying weekend staycations this summer, the odds are good that you’ve been exposed to more sun than usual recently. We fully support you getting outside and soaking in some Vitamin D here and there, but we also want to arm you with the tools you need to ensure that you’re not putting your skin — and, in the process, the rest of your body — in danger with a little too much exposure. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of questions you may want to consider at this point in the summer.
Consider this your mid-season skin care check-in.
Take a few minutes (a summer cocktail in hand is totally allowed) to think through these questions. Only you know the answers, and while it might be hard to admit that you haven’t been taking awesome care of your skin this season, there’s still plenty of time to get back on track if you’re feeling like you’ve fallen short so far.
- Are you applying SPF to the parts of your skin that are most exposed to the sun on a daily basis? Many makeup and moisturizer brands do have an SPF! While this isn’t enough to protect you for hours of direct sun exposure, it’s a great place to start and will ensure that you are at least somewhat safe from the sun while you commute and run errands.
- Are you practicing proper sun safety measures when you’re outside for longer periods of time? According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, you need roughly the equivalent of a shot glass worth of sunscreen — or more — to effectively cover your body. You need to reapply that same amount every two hours, so over the course of a full day in the sun, one person will likely use somewhere between one-half and one-quarter of an 8-oz. bottle of lotion. If you’re swimming or sweating, you need to reapply even more often.
- Are you reapplying regularly even if you’re using a higher SPF? We feel like a bit of a broken record since we just schooled you on all things proper sunscreen application, but it’s worth noting in a bullet point all its own that a higher SPF label is no reason to chill on those rules. Products with a high SPF can create a false sense of security. While they might technically buy you a little more time before your skin starts to redden, they are not the foolproof answer to sun damage, so play it safe and reapply more than might feel necessary.
- Are you applying sunscreen even when it’s cold or cloudy outside? There are a few fluke days of every summer when the heat lifts and the sun disappears behind the clouds — but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on the sunscreen if you’re planning to be outside. Per the Skin Care Foundation, up to 40 percent of the sun’s UV radiation reaches us even on a cloudy day. You can still burn when it’s overcast, so don’t quit those healthy sunscreen habits.
- How is your skin looking? If you’re not sure how successful your prevention measures have been, just tune in to your bod. First thing’s first — are you sunburned? Are you experiencing rashes or unusual dryness? If your skin seems funky, it may be time to circle back to the start of this check-in and think a little harder about your sun protection routine.