Wearing sunscreen is an important part of your overall sun protection regimen, and can help protect your skin and keep you looking young and healthy. But many people are confused about which types of sunscreen to wear, how much and how often. We believe that the more you know, the better prepared you will be.
SPF Defined. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. Sunscreen will have an SPF ranking of anywhere from 1 to 100. Most of the time we recommend at least SPF 30 for daily use, higher if you are out by the water or doing outdoor activities for an extended period of time. The SPF tells you how much protection the product provides against UVB rays. For example, if it takes about 20 minutes for your skin to burn unprotected, a sunscreen with SPF 15 is saying it will prevent a burn for 15 times longer. Be aware though that higher isn’t always better. A sunscreen with SPF 15 will protect your skin from 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 50 is just a little higher at 98%. Also, people tend to think they are more than protected when using a sunscreen with a high SPF rating, when sometimes that rating itself isn’t accurate, or the person didn’t apply enough sunscreen to receive full protection.
UVA and UVB. The sun emits ultra violet radiation, and UVA and UVB are two forms that reach the earth’s surface. UVA aging rays are longer and are present at a stable intensity year-round. UVB rays are shorter and vary in intensity depending on the time of day and the time of year. For many years UVB rays were thought to be the “burning” rays, but now we know that both can cause harm to skin.
Broad Spectrum. To fully protect against the sun’s rays, you will want to look for a sunscreen that says “broad spectrum” on the label. SPF ratings only apply to UVB rays. A broad spectrum sunscreen will also protect against UVA rays.
How much should I use? Our dermatologist, Dr. Tracie Bryson, recommends at least a shot glass full of sunscreen to appropriately cover your body. “If you apply only half of the needed amount of sunscreen, than you are getting less than half of the labeled SPF protection,” Bryson says.
When do I apply? Everyone should put sunscreen on their face first thing in the morning. For many women, it becomes part of their make-up routine. But if it’s for going to the beach, the pool, or other outdoor activities, you should put sunscreen on at least 20 minutes before going outside. Most broad-spectrum sunscreens are made up of both physical and chemical blockers. The physical blockers, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, begin working immediately, but the chemical blockers work by absorbing into the skin.
Here at Davie Dermatology & The Med Spa, we tell our patients and clients to wear sunscreen every day. Whether you’re relaxing by the pool or just driving to and from work, every time you’re outside you are exposed to the sun’s rays. And while being out in the sun has many benefits, from helping produce Vitamin D in our bodies to increasing chemicals in our brains that make us feel happier and more energetic, there are also drawbacks to exposure to the sun’s rays. Over time sun exposure can cause skin to become leathery and wrinkled, and can lead to skin cancer.
We have learned that one of the most important factors when using sunscreen is that it looks and feels natural on your skin. Many people associate sunscreen with a greasy, coconut-smelling product from our childhood at the beach. But today’s products are much more sophisticated. We feel proper sun protection is important, which is why we have created a Sunscreen Bar at our Med Spa. We have a variety of sunscreens available, from products that are good for everyday use to others that are more appropriate for the pool. The brands we carry, Avene, Elta, Elizabeth Arden and Revision have been selected by our team of physicians for their high quality and excellent protection. Finding the perfect sunscreen is often a trial and error type experience, which is why we welcome you to come in and try a few of our products to see which ones work best for you. We also have a new products page where you may learn more about the sunscreens we carry HERE