Sunscreen is considered one of the most important steps of a skincare routine. A basic skincare regimen is made up of a cleanser, toner, moisturizer and sunscreen. As we have learned over time, a great sunscreen will offer broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. Until recently, sunscreens only protected against UVB rays and not UVA. The difference between the two are listed below.
UVA rays do not penetrate deep and cause sunburn; however, they do cause fine lines and wrinkles. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that in our lifetime, 90% of skin changes and aging is due to exposure to UVA rays. Many companies are now offering broad-spectrum sunscreens that will protect the skin from both types of rays mentioned above.
There are two basic types of sunscreen: physical and chemical. They protect the skin in very different ways. Read below to learn more.
These types of sunscreens block the sun’s UV rays by creating a physical barrier between the sun and your skin. Physical sunscreen ingredients include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These ingredients are often not as irritating to the skin, especially those with sensitivity issues. Physical sunscreen is notable in the fact that it can leave a white cast, therefore making it unsuitable for darker skin tones.
Chemical sunscreens prevent the sun’s UV rays from penetrating the skin by converting the rays to heat and then releasing that heat from the skin. This chemical conversion helps the skin to not burn. The common ingredients in a chemical sunscreen are:
Chemical sunscreens differ from physical sunscreens because they have smaller molecules. They are also thinner and don’t require you to use as much. People with sensitive skin or eczema may find these sunscreens somewhat irritating. Another good option is children’s sunscreens because they’re formulated to be gentle.
SPF: What Does it Mean and How Much Do I Need?
SPF, or sun protection factor, measures the length of time the sunscreen will protect the skin from UVB rays. To understand this better, let’s say you get burnt after 10 minutes in the sun. If you choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 15, then you will be protected fifteen times longer. The total time of protection in this example would be 150 minutes. For those with darker skin tones, SPF 15 will be suitable for daily use; however, a higher SPF will be needed for prolonged exposure.
Most would be surprised to find that they are not getting proper protection because they do not apply enough. To gain adequate coverage, you need to use 1 oz. of sunscreen.
When applying physical sunscreens, the effectiveness is immediate. As for chemical sunscreens, their effectiveness will occur 15 to 30 minutes after application. This time allows for them to activate before being exposed to the sun’s rays.
For daily use, most sunscreens can be worn under makeup without causing any aesthetic issues. If your current sunscreen does not mix well with your makeup, keep searching until you find one that does, trust me it’s worth it. Also, in the morning you can streamline your skincare routine by applying a moisturizer that has sunscreen already in it.
If you are spending a good amount of time in the sun, it is important to reapply sunscreen every two hours. You will need to reapply more often if you are swimming or sweating. To note, “water-resistant” sunscreens generally maintain their SPF for about 40 minutes once exposed to water. Sunscreens listed as “very water-resistant” will maintain their SPF level for up to 80 minutes after exposure to water.
Other Forms of Sunscreen
Sunscreen can be found in lip balms and body lotions as well. As for clothing, you can wear shirts and and bathing suits that will block the sun’s rays. Wearing wide brimmed hats will also help to keep the sun off your head, ears, face and neck.
Sun protection should be taken seriously if you want to maintain healthy, youthful skin. Aside from the pain of a sunburn, no one looks good with skin the color of a lobster.
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