Raleigh sun is one of the leading causes of premature aging; wrinkled, pigmented, crepey, and dry skin. It also contributes to one of the most common cancers – skin cancer. Skin care specialists at Wake Health Medical Group in Raleigh provide facts about sunscreen; ingredients to look for, best sunscreen for you, and what SPF stands for and the number represents.
The many active ingredients found in sunscreen are both mineral and chemical. The difference between these two compounds is mineral sunscreens reflect UV while chemical sunscreens absorb UV. However, due to the fact that different ingredients reflect or absorb at different wavelengths, it is sometimes best to use a combination of ingredients to more adequately protect your skin from as many UV rays as possible.
Because a chemical sunscreen produces its own free radical as a chemical by-product when it absorbs UV, a quality chemical sunscreen will contain an antioxidant to assist in neutralizing this process. Conversely, minerals don’t create a free radical which is the reason why a mineral sunscreen won’t stay on the skin as effectively an can repel either by wiping it off or sweating.
A good rule of thumb is to select your sunscreen based on your lifestyle and activities. If you are outdoors more often than not; water activities, exercising, etc., a combination of chemical, mineral and antioxidant sunscreen would offer you the ideal protection. If you’re indoors more often than not, for general day use if your sun exposure is minimal, a mineral sunscreen is recommended.
Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours. If you are a female, a simple way of ensuring you have good UV protection is to also wear 100% mineral makeup. It’s less of a hassle to reapply throughout the day when you refresh your makeup versus having to constantly apply liquid sunscreens.
Most people don’t realize that many office lights also contain UVA. Therefore, you should be wearing sunscreen every day, all day, regardless if you are at the office, indoors or outdoors.
A higher SPF is better for me, right?
Most people are completely confused about what the SPF number on sunscreens mean. This is mostly due to the perceived understanding of commercials presented by sunscreen brands.
There is little difference between an SPF 30 and those sunscreens stating higher SPFs. SPF number refers to the amount of time you can stay in the sun based on your own burn time. For example, an SPF 30 sunscreen would provide 30 times the protection of no sunscreen. That means 30 times longer than your natural burn time.
An SPF 15 blocks about 94% of the sun’s rays while an SPF 30 blocks about 97%. Don’t let the SPF number give you false sense of security because all sunscreens need to be reapplied after about two hours to provide you the promised protection.
A good fact to remember about sunscreens is that they are exactly that – a sunscreen, not a sunblock. So be conscientious about the amount of time you spend in the sun and know that it should be limited.
Protecting the skin with antioxidants
Including antioxidants in your sun-smart skin care routine can have a significant impact. Basically, antioxidants clean up free radicals, which are thought to be the culprits for both skin cancer and aging related to UV damage. If applied to the skin 20 minutes before and immediately after sun exposure, antioxidants can provide equivalent protection of an SPF 20 sunscreen and still allow the production of Vitamin D.
Instead of screening or blocking the UV rays, antioxidants clean up the damage from the UV before it can cause further damage. Recent research is suggesting that antioxidants may be a better option than sunscreens for reducing skin cancer.
How to calculate an SPF for your skin type
Your own skin’s burn time is directly related to your skin type. In order to calculate choose the right SPF for your skin type you must know how to correctly calculate an SPF that’s right for you. Olive skin can stay in the sun 15 minutes before the skin starts to burn. Dark skin can stay in the sun 20 minutes before the skin starts to burn. Fair skin can stay in the sun 10 minutes before the skin starts to burn.
Recommended sunscreen for me?
IMAGE Skincare Prevention+ Daily Hydrating Moisturizer SPF 30 – Long-lasting, deep moisturizer for dry, dehydrated and sensitive skin combined with a broad-spectrum high UVA/UVB sun protection. Sheer formula spreads easily and evenly without any residue. Enriched with a blend of antioxidants, vitamins and green tea as anti-inflammatory agents. Provides ultimate protection and prevention against the aging effects of the sun. Paraben and chemical free high sun protection.
What to do next
To learn more about our sun protection products or find out which sunscreen is right for your skin type, call (919) 554-6754 to schedule an appointment with a Wake Health Medical Group skincare specialist, or schedule a consultation online.