Although the fountain of youth has yet to be discovered, we already have a product in our arsenal that will prevent visible skin aging such as wrinkles, brown spots, and texture changes. That product is sunscreen. We hear it all the time – make sure you wear sunscreen every day!
It is the most important step in any skin care routine, yet despite this, so many of us fall short. Even those of us who do wear sunscreen are likely unsure of exactly how it works, what type we should be using, or how to effectively apply the product. This article will provide some helpful information, and address some of the myths and misunderstandings about sunscreen.
Every time we step outside we are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. As long as there is daylight, UV is present and silently damaging our skin. The two types of rays that reach our skin are:
UVA – these rays are the most prevalent and do the most damage. Although we cannot see or feel UVA rays, they penetrate deep into the skin, causing damage that leads to wrinkles and skin cancer. UVA rays are present all day long, all year long, and in all types of weather. They also penetrate through windows.
UVB – these rays are responsible for tanning, sunburn, pigmentation changes, and skin cancer. They are also present all year; however, they are stronger between April and October and between 10am to 4pm. When we feel the sun against our skin, we are feeling UVB rays.
HEV – high energy visible light, or blue light, is emitted from the sun, and also from our electronic devices. As our screen time increases, there is growing concern about the effects of excessive HEV exposure on our vision, skin, and sleep patterns. HEV light penetrates the skin deeper than UVA and UVB and has been shown to accelerate skin aging and cause pigmentation changes.
What sunscreen to use
SPF refers to “Sun Protection Factor” and basically tells you how long you can stay in the sun before your skin starts to burn (from UVB rays). For example, if your skin normally starts to burn after 10 minutes in the sun, then a sunscreen with SPF 30 should give you 300 minutes (10 minutes x 30) or 5 hours of protection – as long as you have applied enough of the product, and reapplied as directed.
There is no sunscreen product that will offer 100% protection. SPF 30 will protect against 97% of UVB rays, whereas an SPF 50 will protect against 98%. Anything higher than SPF 50 has little benefit and tends to give a false sense of security – tempting you to stay in the sun longer than you normally would. I’m sure you’ve heard of somebody getting a sunburn while wearing SPF 100. This, unfortunately, is an all-too-common occurrence.
There are two types of sunscreen formulations – chemical and physical.
Chemical sunscreens work as a filter by absorbing UV rays like a sponge. Because the ingredients need to penetrate the skin in order to work, you must apply the product at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. Chemical sunscreens always contain more than one active ingredient so that they can protect against both UVA and UVB. Common ingredients are avobenzone, octinoxate, and oxybenzone.
Physical sunscreens are also known as mineral sunscreens. They sit on the surface of the skin and act as a shield, reflecting UV rays off of the skin. Because they are free of chemicals, mineral sunscreens are often recommended for those with sensitive skin. The only active ingredients in physical sunscreens are zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, which protect against both UVA and UVB.
A common mistake is not applying enough sunscreen for it to be effective. This will result in sunburn and skin damage. For the body, a general guideline is one full ounce of product – about the size of a shot glass – and it should be applied prior to sun exposure. You should reapply every couple of hours, and after swimming or sweating. There is no such thing as ‘waterproof’ sunscreen. In fact, sunscreens can only be labeled as ‘water-resistant’ for 40 to 80 minutes.
If your makeup has SPF, it is unfortunately not an adequate amount to protect your skin properly. Therefore you need to use a separate sunscreen product in addition to your makeup. For the face, a nickel-sized dollop of sunscreen is recommended.
The only way to reap the benefits of sunscreen is to commit to wearing it. Therefore it is essential that you find a formula that you love so that you will be motivated to use it daily. Fortunately, there are more and more outstanding formulas being produced every year. Whether you want something that is hydrating, tinted, lightweight, oil-absorbing, or chemical-free, there is something for everyone.
Here at GraceMed we are completely excited about the new ZO Sunscreen + Powder Broad Spectrum SPF 40 that just launched. This powdered sunscreen with a built-in brush that provides instant protection in one simple on-the-go application. It is available in a variety of sheer tints and can be worn alone or over makeup. It’s perfect for re-application throughout the day. This is a great choice for anyone looking for easy chemical-free sun protection, and for those who don’t like the feel of traditional sunscreen lotions. This is just one of the many sunscreen options we have available. If you need assistance in finding a suitable sunscreen, please book a complimentary consultation, and one of our skin experts will be happy to assist you.