Morning 6-Step Routine (Step 6: Sunscreen)

By Minji

  • Consider the “belt and suspenders” approach and layer a mineral sunscreen on top of a chemical one
  • Pat first, then gently in short strokes, work out any streaks
  • Focus on making this 6-step routine as natural to you as brushing and flossing and see sustainable glowing results

Step 6: Sunscreen.  The sun and I have a complex relationship.  It’s truly love-hate.  I love being in the sun sometimes.  It puts me in the best mood and I feel like it’s natural for us to be in the sun once in a while (we need it for vitamin D too!). 

On the other hand, I hate the sun.  It’s a proven enemy to healthy skin.  It gives me wrinkles, sunspots and can even cause cancer.  The only way to deal with this complex relationship, like any complex relationship really, is to make sure I’m getting just the right amount, and when I do expose myself, I’m adequately protected.  Hence the importance of sunscreen, this last but critical step. 

I like to go all out and layer my sunscreens.  I use a chemical sunscreen first and then after a minute or two, I’ll also put on a mineral based one.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  First, we’re always hearing that most of us are not putting on enough sunscreen.  This is true.  According to the American Academy of Dermatology, most of us only apply 25-50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen.  Doubling up on two types of sunscreen instead of one product helps with this. 

The other reason I layer is because chemical and mineral sunscreens protect the skin from the sun in totally different ways.  Whereas mineral sunscreens sit on top of the skin and block rays at the surface, chemical sunscreens absorb, then defuse the damage.  When you use both, it’s basically adopting a “belt and suspenders” approach.  Well worth it when it comes to protecting against skin enemy #1.  If you want to simplify your products inventory, make sure you use at least two layers of the same product.  It’s nearly impossible to get an adequate amount of sunscreen applied and nicely absorbed in one application to the face.

Check the labels to confirm that you’re using products that offer broad spectrum protection, which means that it offers effective protection against both UVA and UVB rays.  UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB, and cause wrinkles, sagging and other bummers.  UVB rays damage the skin’s upper surface and cause sunburn.  Both can contribute to causing skin cancer. 

Also, my standard is to look for an SPF of 45 or more.  As a refresher, SPF is a measure of how long a person can stay in the sun before their skin starts to burn.  For example, if with no sunscreen, your skin starts to get red in 20 minutes, an SPF 40 will theoretically allow you to stay in the sun 40 times longer, so for 800 minutes (20x40 = 800), without getting burned.  But that’s all theoretically speaking and in reality, no matter what the SPF, sunscreens start to lose effectiveness over time, so it’s important to reapply during the day.  I’ve also heard that beyond SPF 50, the amount of additional sun protection is negligible, so I always try to use something close to 50 but don’t sweat about getting higher than that.

The other thing that’s key when it comes to sunscreen is making sure you use it every day.  Even when it’s rainy or you’re in doors.  Like you would expect from any formidable foe, UV rays can penetrate both clouds and windows and cause you harm.  Best just to include sunscreen as a daily no-brainer step instead of an add-on.

Pump a nickel size amount of sunscreen onto your hand, rub, and gently pat around the face until it absorbs.  If you have white streaks left after the patting process, you can gently rub or swipe until all products are fully absorbed.  Apply an additional layer.  Again, keeping in mind that the general recommended amount of sunscreen to use is way more than can be easily applied and absorbed in one application. Wait 2-3 minutes if you’re putting on makeup, but hopefully you can skip it today since your bare skin looks so amazing!  

That concludes the basic morning 6-step routine.  You can customize by adding in additional steps (like using two different serums) but I find less is more these days and adhering to the 6-steps regularly is much more effective than trying to search out some miracle product.  You can also incorporate massaging tools or face masks, other gadgets, etc. – you get the picture.  I utilize quite a few add-ons myself and will plan on sharing them with you in future posts.  Let’s make sure we really nail down this base routine in the meantime – it should be as natural to you as brushing and flossing.  Make sure you join our newsletter so you never miss a skincare tip and other exclusive content - be in the know and spark a glow!