5 mistakes you've been making with your sunscreen

Caroline Allen
Contributor
It's easy to lather on the suncream and think you're protected, but there are some things you should watch out for. [Photo: Getty]

Regularly using SPF is one of the best things we can do for our skin.

Sometimes though, lathering on suncream and assuming you’ll be protected from the sun’s rays is sunburn waiting to happen.

Using sunscreen correctly is more complicated than you might think.

From knowing what the jargon really means to knowing when to throw it out, cutting out these mistakes will help to protect your skin this summer.

READ MORE: Forgetting to apply SPF to eyelids could put us at risk

Know the difference between “water-resistant” and “waterproof”

It’s easy to mix up the two. After all, they essentially mean the same thing, right? Wrong.

Brands are allowed to claim their suncream is water-resistant if the SPF of a product drops by 50 per cent after 40 minutes in tap water. This is according to the European industry guidelines.

That means if you jump into the pool with SPF30 on, it could drop to SPF15 or less when you get out.

To be safe, reapply sunscreen after you get out of the pool or water.

READ MORE: Ultra-violet images shows sun damage

Know your suncream’s shelf life

Most suncreams do expire. You might see the expiry date stamped on the bottle. The amount of years or months it lasts for can usually be found inside a little tub lurking near the small print.

Most skincare will have this on it, which is a handy tip if you’re not sure if the serum you’ve found in the depths of your make-up drawer has expired or not.

If you can’t find a date, look for smell and texture. If in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Think twice about “once a day”

Reapplying sunscreen is the worst. It’s not surprising that many of us opt for the “once a day” variety.

Although all of the sunscreens are rigorously tested, there are a lot of factors that play a part in how long your sunscreen lasts.

Everything from sweating to swimming in the sea can impact the quality of your SPF.

READ MORE: This 60-second trick could stop your spots

Seek shade if it’s really hot

Yes, SPF is meant to protect us from the sun, but it can only offer so much protection.

The idea of suncream is to protect us from incidental exposure to the sun. It’s best to make sure you have a sun hat, sunglasses, access to an umbrella or shade and clothing to cover up if needed.

Make sure you’re thoroughly applying the suncream

It’s one thing to put suncream on, but are you doing it properly? According to Which? less than half of us apply the correct amount of SPF.

SPF tests are conducted using a set amount of suncream. If you’re not applying enough, your SPF will be less effective from the offset.

Use the 7 teaspoons rule. One teaspoon for the neck and face, one for each arm, one for each leg, one for your back and one for your front.