We all know that it’s important to wear sunscreen to protect our skin but how familiar are you with what to look for in a sunscreen? Sunscreen contains sun protection factor commonly known as SPF. Sunscreen products can range anywhere from 2-50 SPF. According to the American Melanoma Foundation, this number “refers to the product’s ability to screen or block out the sun’s harmful rays.” For example, if you use a sunscreen with a SPF 15, you can be in the sun 15 times longer than you can without sunscreen before burning. This month, we want to make sure you are fully equipped to protect your skin by knowing the facts about SPF and the sun.
Did You Know?
- Your sunscreen should protect against both UV-A and UV-B rays. UV-A rays are known to be responsible for long term skin damage and can even penetrate through glass, making them dangerous to unprotected skin. UV-B rays, more prevalent during the summer months, are known to be responsible for causing sunburn and cancerous cells.
- UV-B rays can reflect off water and snow year round!
- UV-A and UV-B rays are stronger on parts of the Earth closer to the equator. So depending on where you are, a higher SPF may be better!
- Sunblock and sunscreen are different.
- Sunblock will contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide that will reflect the sun’s rays and block them from your skin completely. Sunscreen will contain chemicals that absorbs UV-A and UV-B rays yet filters the ultraviolet radiation.
- The FDA only permits sunscreens with SPF 15 or higher to claim that they help prevent sunburn or skin cancer.
- No sunscreen is truly waterproof or sweat proof, only water or sweat-resistant. Therefore, if you’ll be swimming or exercising, it’s important to reapply often.
- The skin on our face is often more sensitive than the rest of our body. This is important for a couple of reasons. First, it means that some typical sunscreens might irritate our face while it may be fine to use elsewhere. Also, many of us are more likely to burn on our face more quickly or more severely that the rest of our body. Consider using a sunscreen made specifically for the face or a moisturizer with SPF and use a higher SPF on our face than the rest of our body.
- Not all sunscreens have the same ingredients. Check other ingredients that you may have had reactions to in the past. If one reacts poorly with your skin, try another!
- Check the dates on all of your SPF. Using expired SPF could mean you aren’t getting all the benefits out of your sunscreen. Throw out all of the expired SPF products and replace.
- If you have oily or acne prone skin, try water-based sunscreen. It will help you stay protected while avoiding extra oil that can clog your pores.
- Shake well to ensure that all of the particles are nicely mixed together.
- Apply on all parts that are exposed to sun. Areas that receive the least amount of sun exposure on a regular basis may be more sensitive and may require a higher SPF or more frequent application.
- The best time to apply is 30 minutes before you’ll be out in the sun. That ensures your skin has time to absorb the SPF and it is less likely to rinse off from sweat. Make sure to apply sunscreen often throughout the day, whether you are in water or not!