The importance of sunscreen has been proven through countless studies and decades of research. Using sunscreen drastically reduces risk factors resulting from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. The term SPF means “sun protection factor” and doesn’t directly relate to how much time one can spend in the sun before receiving the damaging effects of its rays.
The SPF rating listed on sunscreens indicates how much UVB radiation the sunscreen can protect against. For example, “SPF 50” means that it would take 50 times longer to burn than not wearing any sunscreen. SPF numbers are not exact as UVB radiation can be increased or decreased according to time of day, weather, environment, pollution, and more. The higher the SPF, the better the sun protection. I would advise selecting a minimum of SPF 30 for adequate protection from the sun.
There are two types of sunscreens, chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens have traditionally held a larger market share, although physical sunscreens are becoming increasingly popular. Chemical sunscreen absorbs into the skin and then absorbs UV rays, converts the rays into heat, and releases them from the body. They break down much more quickly than physical sunscreens so, in my office, we highly recommend always using physical sunscreens.
Physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin and actually block the sun's rays. Physical sunscreens contain either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Those with sensitive skin may opt for physical sunscreen as their skin is less able to absorb chemical sunscreen ingredients.
KEY CONSIDERATIONS WHEN BUYING SUNSCREEN
WATER RESISTANT: Sunscreens that are water resistant were designed to stay on skin that is continuously getting wet. Individuals who enjoy watersports or who exercise outside should look for a product that is water-resistant.
CHOOSE A HIGH SPF: As a physician, I always recommend my patients use a minimum of SPF 30.
REAPPLY: When spending time outside, reapplying your sunscreen every hour is essential to getting the most protection. One study shows that applying sunscreen twice before exposing yourself to sunlight gives you the most sun protection; this is because many people don’t apply sunscreen properly the first time. So, by regularly reapplying sunscreen, you cover all your bases and ensure that every inch of your skin is fully protected.
UTILIZE PROTECTIVE CLOTHING: Layer up with UV-rated clothing lik
e shirts and hats to really beef up the sun protection. Protective clothing is especially important for little ones or those with very fair skin.
MAKE UP IS NOT ADEQUATE PROTECTION: Don’t depend on skincare or makeup products that contain minimal SPF. Foundations or tinted moisturizers with SPF 15 do provide some measure of sun protection, but it’s not enough to adequately protect your skin from sun damage. It’s best to combine them with an actual sunscreen formulation with at least SPF 30.
Sun damage accounts for up to 90% of premature skin aging. But, by following these tips, you can lessen the amount of damage caused by UV radiation and prevent your skin from looking and feeling older.
In my practice, Facial Cosmetic and Wellness Center, we offer a variety of sunscreens and can help you find the products that works best for your skin and lifestyle. All our sunscreen products are a minimum of SPF 30 and are physical sunscreens to ensure you get the most protection possible from your suncare products.