As the summer gets on it's way, let's make sure our SPF facts are up to snuff.
Why sunscreen daily?
Let me count the ways! Starting with the fact that 90% of visible signs of aging are caused by the sun. We are exposed to the sun daily (including UVA rays you might not notice) and your body counts sun exposure cumulatively. We may get wiser over the years, but we also collect more sun-time. And the damage shows up many, many years later.
Containing ingredients like avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate and others, chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s rays, transform them into heat, which is then released from your skin. ‘Chemical’ sounds like a bad word, but it’s not here – it just describes how it functions. Chemical sunscreens take about 20 minutes to activate after application, so lotion up before heading out.
Physical sunscreens are ones with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and work like a mirror, deflecting the sun’s rays from your skin. They can be less likely to clog pores, cause less allergy issues, and are ideal for everyday use, especially on your face. And they’ve come a long way from the white-nose days, so don’t worry about that. Protection is instant once applied.
UVA vs. UVB Rays
The A and B letters are scientific, but all you have to remember is A for Aging and B for Burning. UVB rays cause familiar results – sunburns. UVA rays do quieter damage, causing wrinkles, skin cancer, and visible signs of aging. UVA rays come through clouds and windows, which is why we preach daily sunscreen.
Sunscreen labeled ‘Broad Spectrum’ protects against both UVA and UVB rays. If it’s not labeled as such, chances are it’s only covering UVB rays (think: your less expensive body sunscreens you’ll find at the drug store). You’re best off with Broad Spectrum to make sure you’re covered, especially when it comes to your face.
The SPF Numbers
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a standard laboratory measurement of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB damage to our skin. (Important distinction, it doesn’t measure the impact of those aging UVA rays.) If it normally takes you ten minutes to burn, generously-applied SPF 30 would keep you from burning for 300 minutes, or about five hours. (Usual Time To Burn x SPF = Protection Time). Our take? Math is not fun at the beach, so do yourself a favor and just re-apply often and liberally.
How much sunscreen?
Conventional wisdom says a ‘shot glass’ worth over your entire body, although I suggest a bit more. All depends on height and weight. Apply more frequently if you’re sweating or in and out of the water.
Over or used as makeup?
I'm a big fan of straight up sunscreen as a foundation with SPF to ensure coverage. Our clients love our Tinted UV Protect 35 SPF facial lotion that is incredibly light and lightly tinted to blend into most skin types (haven't found anyone yet that it has not). The other great option is to dust with our La Bella Donna Minerals to assure protection at a 25 SPF and non-nano, so that you do not loose your makeup (and coverage) through your pores throughout the day.
When was this stuff invented?
Want to sound smart at your summer barbecue? The first major commercial sunscreen was sold in 1936, by the founder of L’Oreal. Ten years later, it improved dramatically for soldiers in World War II. “SPF” as a standard was adopted in 1974. And before all that, ancient cultures used olive oil, rice extract, zinc oxide, and other compounds for thousands of years.