HOW TO USE SUNSCREENS CORRECTLY
More than 90 percent of the visible skin changes associated with aging (think fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone and sagging skin) are actually caused by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.
If that assertion alone is not frightening enough to send you to the summer hibernation mode, we don’t know what’s going to happen. But here’s a motivating thought: In the same report, researchers found that participants who applied SPF 15 or higher broad-spectrum sunscreen each morning— and were vigilant to reapply every few hours — reduced their skin aging by 24 fold. This is slightly less than subjects that only rarely used sunscreen.
It shows us three things that we previously didn’t know. One, in skin aging, the sun plays a much more significant role than we originally thought. Second, the bulk of the sun damage they get is not from an annual beach holiday, but from seemingly innocent day-to-day tasks such as running errands or having brunch outdoors. Third, the best defense against sun-induced harm remains to wear sunscreen. Given what we know about sunscreens, there are still so many misunderstandings about how to best use it. Five of them are here.
5 Sunscreen Myths, Debunked
Just about any sunscreen will do.
The sunscreen bottle’s SPF number shows how well it can shield the skin from UVB rays— the kind that is responsible for sunburn and skin cancer. But you’re exposed to another spectrum of radiation while in the sun: UVA, or the rays that are responsible for skin aging. Check for sunscreens that say “broad spectrum” on the tag and give an SPF of 30 or higher to ensure you are safe against UVA and UVB
The SPF in your foundation should be enough.
You will never add enough foundation to reap the benefits of the SPF it provides unless you are a theater actress. Experts recommend using a nickel-sized amount of sunscreen as the last move in your skin care routine and keeping your face adequately protected before applying makeup. And don’t forget the whole body!
Higher SPF means you can spend more time outdoors.
No matter how high the SPF is, for optimum safety, the FDA recommends reapplying sunscreen every two hours. One ounce is advised to keep the whole body covered so that one person could use almost an entire bottle of SPF 30 sunscreen on a day spent at the beach to stay adequately protected from head to toe.
As long as you don’t go outside, you are protected.
UVA rays can penetrate glass, so you’re not fully shielded even if you’re spending a lot of time in your car. It should be a regular, year-round practice to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen
Darker skin tones don’t need sunscreen.
While those with darker complexions have in their skin a naturally higher degree of SPF coverage, they are still at risk of skin cancer and aging, making sunscreen application an absolute necessity. Most sunscreens tend to give a gray appearance to dark skin after use, but newer liquid and pure formulations can provide coverage to darker women without altering their skin appearance.
15 Sunscreen Terms to Remember
Although we can’t avoid the sun, in the long run, the religious application of sunscreen can make a big difference in our skin, not only in slowing noticeable signs of aging but also in avoiding the most dangerous form of skin cancer, melanoma. But with a variety of options available for sunscreen, how do you choose the best one for you? Let’s open the mystery that is the mark of your sunscreen before we go there. Here are 15 important terms for sunscreen.
1. SPF (SUN PROTECTION FACTOR)
A calculation of the amount of UVB radiation needed to burn protected skin (with sunscreen) relative to the amount needed to burn unprotected skin (without sunscreen). Let’s get it broken down. For example, if your skin usually burns in the sun after 10 minutes, an SPF 15 will allow you to stay in the sun for about 150 minutes or 15 times longer without burning.
So does this mean that SPF 80 is much higher than SPF 50? The FDA says that there are insufficient data to support that, so its latest ruling limits the sunscreen labeling maximum SPF value to “SPF 50 +.”
2. UVA (ULTRAVIOLET A)
Accounts for up to 95% of the UV radiation that hits the surface of the planet. Both are less powerful than UVB, but both reach deeper into the skin and play a major role in aging and wrinkling of the hair.
3. UVB (ULTRAVIOLET B)
UVB affects the skin’s more superficial epidermal layers as well as the more extreme (especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.), causing skin reddening and sunburn. It plays a key role in skin cancer production.
4. BROAD SPECTRUM
This means that the sunscreen provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
5. CHEMICAL SUNSCREEN
By using chemical filters to remove UV light, it protects your body. Commonly used chemical filters include avobenzone, oxybenzone, Mexoryl SX and XL and Tinosorb M.
6. MINERAL SUNSCREEN
This works by deflecting or blocking the sun’s rays with mineral filters of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which traditionally appear black. They are thought to be less irritating than chemical sunscreens as they do not penetrate the skin and contain fewer irritants and allergens. Also known as a physical sunscreen, formulations have significantly improved in recent years, and finding one that does not impart a whitish hue is quite easy.
It means that when exposed to sunlight, it does not degrade or change its form. Most often you will see this term on sunscreen containing avobenzone, which can be unstable if not correctly formulated. A defective sunscreen will not provide the sun protection it says on the tag and may threaten you with sunburn.
8. WATER RESISTANT
The ability of the sunscreen to stay on the skin—and maintain its SPF level—after 40 to 80 minutes of water exposure. The FDA only allows the claim on sunscreen labels to be “water resistant” because it believes that no sunscreen can claim to be waterproof.
Such molecules have a diameter of fewer than 100 nanometers. Many sunscreen ingredients, such as zinc oxide, are reduced to this size so that instead of black, the sunscreen dries transparent. Several groups of consumers and the community have raised concerns regarding nanoparticles ‘ health risks, while recent studies have shown that nanoparticles are considered safe.
This term means the product will not clog your pores—an important factor to consider if you have oily, sensitive or acne-prone skin.
It’s the most dangerous type of skin cancer and the leading cause of death from skin disease.
12. SUN SPOTS
These flat, brown or black spots appear on the areas of the skin exposed to the sun, particularly the face, hands, shoulders and arms. They’re also known as age spots, liver spots or solar lentigines.
Generally refers to the damage done to the body and skin by prolonged exposure to UVA and UVB radiation.
14. FREE RADICALS
Unstable molecules that create damage by stealing electrons from healthy cells. Sun exposure generates free radicals and causes premature aging.
Neutralizes free radical damage. When paired with a potent sunscreen, antioxidants up your defense against the sun.
The Right Sunscreen for Your Skin
If your skin is not too oily or too dry, nearly all sunscreen formulations can be tolerated, ranging from gel to cream to powder. Think what’s the best feeling on your body, what’s the fastest way to apply or reapply, and what things you do every day. You will need to submit more often if you swim, go to the gym or do outdoor activities.
Dry Skin and Sensitive Skin
Choose a lotion or cream with added ingredients such as glycerin, lanolin, fats, silicones (like dimethicone) and aloe. Mineral formulas, or those with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as an active ingredient, are usually kinder than chemical formulas for sensitive skin. Avoid alcohol, perfume and preservative sunscreens.
Look for lightweight sunscreens that come in sheer, fluid or gel formulas. It should also say “oil free” or “non-comedogenic” on the label.
Sunscreen Spray or Lotion
A spray’s ease and comfort is the primary difference between sunscreen spray or lotion. People love them because they can be applied easily, quickly and evenly. They are incredibly convenient and fast, when you use them you have to be particularly careful. Because if you have sprayed each area, or if it is fully absorbed, you may not automatically find holes in your coverage or areas that are not as saturated with SPF as well. A lotion’s advantage is that you apply to each part of your body individually, rub the cream onto the surface, and watch it soak into the skin.
The one thing about sunscreen sprays or lotions is that for most, most lotions are considered safe. As for the sprays, Consumer Reports also hesitates to recommend them to children due to the risk of the aerosolized sunscreens inhalation of chemicals and minerals. Not to mention that when added due to the explosives required to have them spray from an aerosol can, they are extremely flammable. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises customers not to use them near any open flames for this very reason.