Let’s talk about sunscreen and sun protection. It’s a must have for everyone yet throughout the time that I’ve been an Esthetician I have heard many misconceptions out there. So, I thought I would talk about it in more detail.
Let’s start off with what sunscreens are and what they do. Sunscreen protects the skin from the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays (the aging rays) penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin (the dermis) and break down collagen and elastin, proteins that keep our skin plumped and youthful. This causes pre-mature aging and wrinkling. UVB (think B for burning) rays cause sunburn and can contribute to skin cancer, which is something we all want to avoid. A sunscreen will act as a shield to prevent these rays from reaching the skin, so wearing SPF every single day is essential. Yes, that means all year round, even when it’s cloudy, rainy, snowing or if you spend most of your time indoors, the sun’s rays penetrate windows and clouds so protect, protect, protect.
There are a ton of sunscreens on the market which can easily confuse anyone, so one of the most important things to remember is to look for broad spectrum UVA and UBV protection on the label. Another important factor is the protection factor number. Have you ever wondered what the difference between SPF 15 and SPF 30 is? Here’s a breakdown: SPF 15 filters about 93% of the sun’s rays, SPF 30 filters 97% and SPF 50 filters 98% of rays. Contrary to beliefs about higher SPF’s, using higher SPF’s like SPF 75 or SPF 100 does not offer more protection than SPF 50.
Types of Sunscreens
There are two types of sunscreens, chemical and physical that protect the skin in different ways. Let’s start with chemical sunscreens. This type of sunscreen absorbs the sun’s rays and take about 20 minutes to take effect. It is also said that it provides more protection against both UVA and UVB but can be more irritating. There are several different chemical sunscreen filters, this guide I found explains in full detail all the different chemical filters.
Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the only two physical sunscreens and they work by reflecting the sun’s rays, instead of absorbing them. Think of it as a mirror reflecting light for example. These sunscreens tend to be thicker in consistency and can leave a white cast behind, but they are effective right away after application. I personally prefer using physical sunscreens, especially one with zinc oxide. Zinc oxide is anti-inflammatory and works really well for acne prone skin. Some of my favorite SPF’s are Alba Botanica hawaiian sunscreen, Josie Maran’s argan daily moisturizer SPF 47 and elta MD SPF 45 One thing to know is that Titanium dioxide mostly provides UVB protection while zinc oxide provides both UVA and UVB protection, so if you’re looking for an all natural SPF, look for one with both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
Things to keep in Mind
*The sun is at it’s strongest between 10am-3pm, so if you can, try minimizing sun exposure during these times. This might be harder in during winter since daylight hours are limited so just make sure you reapply your sunscreen.
*Speaking of reapplying, sunscreen only remains effective for two hours after application, so it is essential to reapply. I know that slathering on SPF over makeup, if you wear it, is not ideal, but there are powder SPF’s that are more convenient and practical.
Hope you enjoyed this post. Do you have any questions about SPF? Please leave them in the comments!