Sunscreen is both our best friend and our greatest enemy. It can be difficult to sort through and understand all of the information available about this important element of our skin care routine. Most people skip this step because they don’t know how important it is to protect our skin from the sun’s harmful rays!
Wearing SPF is important for preventing melanomas caused by sun exposure and preventing signs of skin aging such as wrinkles and pigmentation. But how many people use suncream correctly? Do we know how much we should use? And do we use SPF when we put on makeup?
Let’s sort it out together so you can keep your skin as healthy as possible!
LET’S TALK ABOUT RAYS BABY- UVA VS UVB
We all know that the sun gives rays, the most damaging to the skin, ultraviolet rays. UVA and UVB are the two basic types of ultraviolet rays. Each of these rays is very dangerous, but what’s the difference? UVB rays are the most responsible for skin cancer and sunburn. Because of their deep penetration into the skin, UVA rays cause skin cancer and premature aging, especially wrinkles and sunspots. Foraging and B for burning is an easy way to remember this. It is important to protect yourself from both of these rays.
Types of Sunscreens
- Physical – Physical sunscreen reflects the sun’s rays away from your skin. They provide amazing protection against both UVA and UVB rays upon application. One disadvantage of these is that they can feel heavy and easily rub or sweat off.
- Mineral – Mineral sunscreen is a physical sunscreen that starts working as soon as it is applied. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the two most common ingredients. Because this sunscreen is more natural, it is no surprise that it is less likely to irritate sensitive skin. These sunscreens are also non-toxic and reef-safe, which is always a bonus!
- Chemical – Chemical sunscreens absorb UVA or UVB radiation. But they often only contain ingredients that absorb the latter of the two. Over-the-counter sunscreens containing Mexoryl have protection from both rays. But they can be difficult to obtain in the mass market in the United States. Chemical sunscreens take about 20-30 minutes to start working, which is why your mother might have made you wait before swimming into the pool growing up. Because of the active ingredients in these sunscreens, they can irritate sensitive skin.
- Children’s Sunscreen – Since children and infants have more sensitive skin naturally, it’s no wonder that chemicals in adult sunscreens would be a no-go. Ingredients like para-aminobenzoic acid and benzophenones are avoided in children’s sunscreen. According to the FDA, these ingredients can affect hormone levels and increase absorption sensitivity in children. Instead, they contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide (hello, mineral sunscreen!). These ingredients have skin protection without being absorbed. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping babies under 6 months out of the sun at all times. These can also be beneficial to people who suffer from skin conditions such as allergies and rosacea.
Benefits Of Using Sunscreen
We can see that using it benefits our skin in ways we can’t even think. For example:
- It protects the skin from the sun’s damaging rays
- It lowers the chances of skin damage and skin cancer
- It aids in the prevention of early aging of the skin
- It helps in the maintenance of an even skin tone
Choosing a sunscreen
There are several factors to consider before selecting one.
1. Choose a sunscreen that offers “broad spectrum” protection
When choosing a sunscreen, look for one labeled as offering broad protection against UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are responsible for skin cancer, premature aging, and wrinkles, while UVB rays cause sunburn. Excessive exposure to any of these rays may result in skin cancer. Usually, all sunscreens protect against UVB rays. The ones labeled “broad spectrum” will protect you from UVA and UVB rays, and that is exactly what we want!
2. Consider the SPF
SPF, which stands for Sun Protection Factor, is used in sunscreens. Some sunscreens have an SPF of 15, while others have an SPF of 30, and even others have an SPF of 50. SPF is a measure of how long a sunscreen can protect you from the sun’s ultraviolet B rays.
SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97 percent of UVB rays, and SPF 50 blocks 98 percent of UVB rays.
3. Put your skin type into consideration
This may sound strange, but your skin is also a factor in determining the sunscreen to use. If you have oily skin, you can use a non-comedogenic one. This means you can look for sunscreen that would not clog your pores.
If you have dry skin, you can look for sunscreen with hydrating ingredients or moisturizers. This also refers to those with sensitive skin. Mineral sunscreen is a good option if you have sensitive skin.
We recommend that you reapply for sunscreen after two hours, regardless of the SPF of your sunscreen.
4. Choose a water-resistant sunscreen
For those who want to swim or those that sweat a lot (exercise, maybe), water-resistant sunscreen is recommended (exercise, maybe). If you fall into this category, you can get sunscreen that specifies how long it can last swimming or sweating.
Some sunscreens are useful for up to 40 minutes of swimming, while others with high water resistance can last up to 80 minutes.
5. Get One That Doesn’t Give White Cast
The white cast that some sunscreens leave on the face is a common reason why people don’t wear sunscreen (especially people with dark skin). This is due to the inorganic sunscreen filters zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The one with titanium has a stronger white cast.
Where to wear
Although most of us are probably diligent in applying sunscreen during the hot summer months and on tropical beach holidays, you should ideally wear sunscreen on all of your exposed body parts all year round. We are exposed to UV rays when walking to work, sitting in the car, and having lunch at a café. Every single day, all of the time, adds up to more sun exposure than you realize.
How much is enough?
According to one study, most people apply less than half of the amount needed to provide sufficient sun protection. If you use sun lotion, apply at least six teaspoons to cover the average adult’s body and half a teaspoon to the face and neck.
Many people wear SPF-containing makeup; is this enough protection to stop reapplying throughout the day?
SPF makeup is not a substitute for sunscreen. Makeup and moisturizers containing SPF are most likely to be easily removed by water or rubbing, and we apply them much thinner than sunscreen. Furthermore, SPF is an indicator of UVB protection but does not have UVA protection.
The Bottom Line
So, before you go outside for some fun in the sun, make sure you are prepared and have done your homework! Check the labels to ensure you have everything you need to protect your skin. Not to mention the floppy hat and sunglasses. The more protection you can have for yourself while outside, the better. The same thing goes for the children. And sure to use sunscreen and sunblock, and teach them early on to protect themselves from the sun’s potentially dangerous rays.