Enjoy the Sun Without the Damage*
Summer is here, which means lounging by the pool, letting the sun soak into your skin, feeling the breeze tickle your hair, but wait. Did you put on sunscreen? With, summer on its way many are scrambling to find the highest SPF to slather on and lounge in the sun without the fear of sunburn. But is that really the best SPF protection for you? Is that SPF 80 really going to protect your skin or be a pointless purchase? Here at Koru Wellness Aesthetics I can help you narrow in your needs and find your best fit. Until then read along in order find what your needs are, and understand the importance of an SPF.
What is SPF?
SPF is an acronym for Sun Protection Factor. The number of sunscreen products is referring to the UVB protection. UVB radiation plays the main role in skin cancer, so the higher the UVB protection the better the sunscreen will protect you against skin cancer. However, you would want your SPF to have both UVA and UVB protection. UVA protection is what is going to protect your skin from prematurely aging due to sun exposure. The FDA does not require for sunscreen packaging to display the levels of UVA protection, but you can help yourself by looking for these ingredients:
- Zinc oxide
- Titanium dioxide
What kind of sunscreens are out there?
There are two different types of sunblock, physical and chemical. A physical sunscreen is an inorganic ingredient that will sit on the surface of the face. It makes the skin reflect or scatter the UV radiation before it can cause damage. Physical sunscreens usually have zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as a main ingredient. A chemical sunscreen is an organic ingredient that absorbs UV rays before they affect the skin. Chemical sunscreens usually have oxybenzone and avobenzone as the main ingredient. With that said, a combination of both will assist you with having complete protection from both UVB and UVA rays.
What if an SPF turns my skin gray/lilac?
As a woman of color, I know firsthand the struggle that comes with finding a sunscreen that does not leave an ashy residue or turn your skin purple. Fortunately, skincare has become more diversified and revolutionized and we now have more than the standard sunscreens to choose from. It is well documented that zinc oxide provides the best UV ray protection, while also cutting down the white residue that titanium dioxide does. Personally, I like the PCA Hydrator Plus Broad Spectrum SPF 30 or if I am going to be in the sun for a prolonged period of time I will spray on the Image Protection+ SPF 45. Neither one of these leave a residue and are generally light and oil free on the face.
Is there a need for an SPF higher than 50?
Short answer is no, but I can see where the appeal may come from. It is a common misconception to think that if the number is higher you must be getting the best sun protection. Right? No, since SPF refers mainly to the amount of UVB protection your sunscreen provides you a higher SPF will help. However, going above SPF 50 may cause more harm than good. SPF 50 is estimated to block about 98% of UVB rays. That means you are covered on the grounds of not getting burned and causing skin cancer. Unfortunately, higher SPFs can also omit UVA protection, which means you are still exposed to getting sun damage and accelerated aging. Protection from both UVA and UVB rays cannot be stressed enough. For those wondering on how high they should go, I say no lower than 30 and no higher than 60. Also make sure that your SPF has a mixture of both physical and chemical protections. Those of you who are lounging in the sun, be sure to reapply your sunblock often and take breaks from the sun as well. Side note: if you are relying on your make-up for SPF protection, just don’t. Make-up is full of plenty of other chemicals as well as your sunscreen, which means that you are not experiencing the full effect of an SPF. This causes holes in your sunscreen leaving you generally oil-free on the face.
Are claims of waterproof and sweatproof real?
I have a bone to pick with the cosmetic industry on this claim. Not only is it unrealistic, it never made sense to me. Thankfully the FDA has now put through new laws that have forced them to replace the waterproof and sweatproof labels. They have now repackaged them to say water-resistant and sweat-resistant. Regardless, to have the best sun protection be sure to reapply sunscreen after rigorous activity, swimming, and toweling off.
Now go out there and enjoy your summer fun! All products that were mentioned in this post can be found at Koru Wellness Aesthetics. Come by and get your customized sun care skin care ritual!
“Skin Cancer Foundation.” ASK THE EXPERT: Does a Higher-SPF (Sun Protection Factor) Sunscreen Always Protect Your Skin Better? – SkinCancer.org, www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/ask-the-experts/does-a-higher-spf-sunscreen-always-protect-your-skin-better.
“Sun Protection .” PCA Skin.
*Please note that these are the views of the author and may not necessarily reflect that of Koru Wellness Aesthetics, or Dr. Vivian Chin. This is for information only and should not be construed as medical advice; reading this does not create a patient-physician relationship between you and Dr. Vivian Chin.