Make SPF your BFF

In the cold days of winter, we are all dreaming about a sunny getaway. Whether you’re headed to warmer climates or just dreaming about them, you need to make SPF your BFF!
In addition to increasing risk of skin cancer, prolonged sun exposure without protection accelerates the aging process. Look younger longer and avoid wrinkles, age spots and leathery texture by using sunscreen every day.

And we mean every day, 365 days a year, even if it’s cloudy and you don’t plan spending a lot of time outside in the winter.

What to use:
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. “Broad-spectrum” protects against both UVB and UVA rays. You need protection against both because sunlight emits up to 95 percent UVA (the rays that penetrate deeply into skin, causing wrinkles, spots and skin cancer) and around 5 percent UVB (the more energetic rays that cause sunburn and can also contribute to skin cancer).

Scan the label of your sunscreen for “active ingredients.” This will tell you which ones are actually doing the protecting. Good choices include sunblock containing the highly effective titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. They’re also known as physical sunscreen because they remain on the surface of the skin and reflect UV rays.


For those with acne prone skin or those who find the physical sunblocks to be too heavy and oily should look for a light, oil-free lotion, with chemical sunscreens avobenzone and oxybenzone. These formulas are silkier and sink in faster (they usually need to be reapplied more often).

Get even better coverage by looking for products that contain antioxidants like vitamins C and E and pomegranate extract which help boost the benefits of sunscreen and help neutralize the damage caused by UV light.

Where and how often to apply:

Apply to your face, lips, hands and any other exposed skin (don’t forget your lips and ears!) about 30 min before going outside. When you’re outdoors, reapply frequently, every 2 hours or more if you’re swimming or perspiring.

How much to apply:

Most people do not apply enough sunblock. An ounce (a shot-glass-full) of sunscreen is the recommendation for full-body coverage from the American Academy of Dermatology. Be extra generous when rubbing it into more exposed areas like the face, shoulders, chest, and the tops of your feet. Devote at least a teaspoon of that ounce to your face, ears, and neck.

Winter sun (5)

What else can you do:

• Seek shade. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.
• Wear protective clothing. Cover your skin with tightly woven long-sleeved shirts, long pants and wide-brimmed hats. Also consider special sun-protective clothing, which is specifically designed to block ultraviolet rays.

It can take years for sun damage to show on your skin. Prevent damage from occurring by making SPF your BFF and use it every day!

Sunscreen is one step towards improving skin health. Find out your skin health score with OKU. Learn more at!

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