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Brenna Gray

5 Step Guide to Sunscreen for Redheads

By: Brenna Gray 

Redheads, it’s inevitable that we’ll all age one day, but there is a way that we can slow down the aging process. Aside from using retinoid creams and topical antioxidants, sunscreen is the most powerful product we redheads have against wrinkles and rough skin. We all know that wearing sunscreen when outdoors (beach, sports, shopping, what have you) is a necessity, but it’s also important to wear it rain or shine, summer or winter.

Walking into the sunscreen aisle of a store can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many numbers and acronyms (SPF, UVA, UVB, COTZ), making it difficult to find the right sunscreen. I know many of you might feel the same way, so I did a little research and put together this simple 5 step guide about SPF.

1. Higher SPF The Better? I couldn’t be the only person who thought the higher the SPF the better. Right? This is actually not true!

The SPF number is simply a standard for how long you can tolerate the sun without burning. Even though super high SPF numbers look attractive on the shelves, it does not mean fair-skinned redheads should be tempted to take this as an open invitation to put some on, lay on the beach and bake for 12 hours. You will get burned!

2. UVA vs UVB. The purpose of sunscreen is to block ultraviolet light from damaging the skin. There are two categories of UV light—UVA and UVB—that we consider in terms of sunscreen. UVB causes sunburns and UVA has more long-term damaging effects on the skin, such as premature aging.

3. How Long Will Sunscreen Last? Here’s an equation to help you figure it out:

Minutes to burn without sunscreen x SPF number = maximum sun exposure time

If you know you can stay in the sun for 10 minutes without burning, a SPF of 15 would allow you to spend 150 minutes in the sun before burning. The numbers are based on time spent in the sun, which is why reapplication is essential. Ideally, you should wear SPF 30 or greater according to the American Academy of Dermatology because the percentage of UV absorbed doesn’t increase much, even when the number of SPF increases past 30.

4. Common acronyms and their meaning:

SPF= Sun Protection Factor

COTZ= Contains Only Titanium and Zinc

UVA= Ultraviolet A

UVB= Ultraviolet B

5. SPF Does Expire! Sunscreen typically maintains its strength for about 3 years. After that time period, it is less effective. If your SPF doesn’t have an expiration date, be sure to write on the bottle when the sunscreen was bought.

Bottom line: Wear sunscreen every day to keep your wrinkles and sunburns at bay.


Rock it like a Redhead! 


Photo (c) How to be a Redhead, SaraJane Case Photography