Nothing smells like summer, than the coconut/pineapple/watermelon flavors of suntan products at the beach. It’s no secret that you should wear sunscreen every single day (rain or shine!) to prevent premature aging and reduce your risk of skin cancer. But finding the right formula for your skin can be a challenge. Many people complain that sunscreen makes their face feel sticky, flaky, or take on a ghostly white sheen. One must decide between physical and mineral options and think about water resistance, too. And those considerations are just the start – after all, sunscreen is one of the only shields we have against premature aging from sun damage and skin cancer. Do you know enough about SPF, UVA and UVB’s?Sunscreens are products combining several ingredients that help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UV) from reaching the skin. Two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB, damage the skin, age it prematurely, and increase your risk of skin cancer. UVB is the chief culprit behind sunburn, while UVA rays, which penetrate the skin more deeply, are associated with wrinkling, leathering, sagging, and other light-induced effects of aging (photoaging). They also exacerbate the carcinogenic effects of UVB rays, and increasingly are being seen as a cause of skin cancer on their own. Sunscreens vary in their ability to protect against UVA and UVB.
SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin. Assuming you use it correctly, if you’d burn after 10 minutes in the sun, an SPF 30 protects for about 5 hours. But the intensity of UVB rays varies throughout the day and by location, and all sunscreens must be reapplied every 2 hours when you’re in the sun. Most of the sun’s radiation is in the form of UVA. Unlike UVB rays, which are strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., UVA rays are present throughout the daylight hours, even on cloudy days.
We all know that wearing SPF is important, but chemical sunscreens – the kind you’ve probably been wearing for years, can be irritating for some people with sensitive skin. Those folks are choosing to use Mineral Sunscreens to help prevent sun damage. They are similar to traditional sunscreens, but they do so using physical blockers like zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. These ingredients work by reflecting the sun off your skin, as opposed to absorbing and transforming harmful rays on the skin as chemical sunscreens which contain the likes of oxybenzone, avobenzone and homosalate do. No matter which you choose:
- Apply properly. Even the best face sunscreen won’t protect you as well if you don’t use the right amount. Use a teaspoon to cover your face and neck and consider squirting out a little more so you can cover your chest, too. And if you use a moisturizer with SPF instead of a face sunscreen, you should still reapply it every two hours if you’re out in the sun, just as you should with any sunscreen.
- Be careful with spray sunscreens: Don’t spray your face. Instead, spray into your hand and rub the product on your face.
- Limit sun exposure between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM, when the sun’s rays are the most intense. Practice the shadow rule: if your shadow is shorter than you, you should find shade.
- Wear sunglasses with 99% to 100% UV absorption. They will provide optimal protection for the eyes and the surrounding skin.
- Pay attention to the UV index, which is often included in the weather report. This index is a relative measure of how damaging exposure to the sun will be on any particular day. The index is a scale of 1 to 10+. When the index is 10 or higher, people should stay indoors, if possible.
Protecting yourself doesn’t have to break the bank, grab a drugstore sunscreen, make sure you get the coverage you need and use it often! To pass the basic must have test, your sunscreen must be broad spectrum, SPF 30 or higher, and absorb without feeling greasy. Whether you prefer a fine mist, a melt-in milky texture, or a super high SPF, there is one for you on the shelf. It is Summertime. . . Stop the Burn. Find your perfect shield from the sun’s harmful rays and get going outside. . .