Remembering and understanding sunscreen is the one thing that we're not all great at but wish we were. Luckily, we're here to help with just that. Today we'll be discussing the ins and outs of sun protection to help educate you and keep your skin looking fresh and healthy all the time.
Let's start off with the basics. What the heck is SPF? Well, SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is "a measure of how well a sunscreen will protect skin from UVB rays." The amount of SPF a person may need varies depending on the skintype, genetics and many more factors.
For example, if you're someone who normally burns after 10 minutes in the sun, if you use an SPF 15 sunscreen that would allow you to stay in the sun for about 150 minutes (or 15x longer). An SPF 15 blocks about 93% of UVB rays. SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays. SPF 50 blocks 98% of USB rays. This goes without saying the higher the SPF, the better the sun protection. Formerly, SPF 15 has been the recommended amount for daily use, but recently The American Academy of Dermatology has upped that to SPF 30.
Understanding the sun is the first step in understanding sun care.
It might be the best feeling in the world to sit by the pool with a cold drink feeling the sun beat on your skin. We're all guilty of loving this feeling. Because it's such a great feeling, we assume it must be good but unfortunately, that's just not the case.
The sun actually emits multiple kinds of radiation that can do damage to our skin and our bodies as a whole. The two types of radiation we have to worry about from the sun are UVA rays and UVB rays. Associate UVA with aging and UVB with burning. Because UVA rays can penetrate much deeper into the skin and cause DNA damage, these are the rays that contribute to premature aging, wrinkles and sun spots while UVB rays cause sunburns and also contribute to the development of skin cancer.
Broad Spectrum is the best option for a sunscreen.
Because there are different times of rays, you need a sunscreen that can protect against both. Many sunscreens just protect again burning, so it's important to choose a sunscreen that is "broad spectrum". This means that it protects against UVA and UVB rays.
There are different kinds of sunscreen.
There are two types of sunscreen: physical and chemical. Physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens will protect your skin by deflecting or blocking sun rays. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the rays of the sun. Physical sunscreens are made of Titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide while chemical sunscreens use filters such as avobenzone and octinoxate that soak into skin and absorb the sun's rays (which can take up to 30 minutes). There are multiple factors that will help you figure out which type of best for you:
A physical sunscreen is best for you if you're looking for quick protecting. Since you don't need to wait at least 20-30 minutes before you head outside after applying a physical sunscreen, this option can be rubbed on then start working immediately after application.
A chemical sunscreen is best for you if you breakout easily since the main ingredient titanium dioxide in a physical sunscreen can be problematic for some people. If you are of a darker skin tone or are African American, a chemical sunscreen may be a better option for you since many physical sunscreens leave a white cast on the skin.
You don't need to wear it just in the summer.
Many people think that the only time they need to wear sunscreen is when the sun is beating down on them but that couldn't be further from the truth. It's crucial that you wear sunscreen every single day even if you're out running errands. Even on the cloudiest of days, you can get a sunburn or get exposure to the sun that may contribute to aging. Believe it or not, just 15 minutes of outdoor time can contribute to the formation of lines and spots in a matter of months.
You need to reapply it every throughout the day.
No matter what sunscreen you're using, you always need to reapply it every 2 hours. It's also important to remember that no sunscreen is truly waterproof. It's important than you reapply immediately after swimming or sweating and every two hours at the very minimum.
The PA rating of a sunscreen is just as important as the amount of SPF.
Since SPF measures the amount of protection against UVB (burning) rays, there needed to be a scale to rate the protection against UVA (aging) rays or "photo-aging". PA rankings are listed as PA+, PA++, PA+++ and so on. The more plus signs, the more protection against the sun's aging rays.
What to Try: Aveda Daily Light Guard Defense Fluid Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $42
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