- HOW SUNSCREEN WORKS: Sunscreen combines organic and inorganic chemicals together in order to filter the light from the sun. This means that less of the sun’s harmful rays reach the deeper layers of your skin. Two of the most commonly used chemicals in sunscreen are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These chemicals are broken down so that they are invisible when applied, yet still effective. Organic chemicals are combined with these inorganic chemicals to break down the sun’s rays and convert the incoming energy into harmless heat. It’s important to note that ultraviolet radiation from the sun arrives in three distinct wavelengths: UV-A, UV-B and UV-C. UV-C is completely blocked by the ozone layer. UV-A is able to penetrate more deeply into your skin and is responsible for age spots, wrinkles and an increased risk of skin cancer. UV-B is responsible for tanning and sunburns.
- UNDERSTANDING SPF: If you’ve ever bought or used sunscreen, you’ve seen the term “SPF.” It stands for “Sun Protection Factor.” This number helps you determine how long you can safely remain in the sun before getting a sunburn. Remember that sunburns are caused by UV-B radiation, which means that SPF has no indication of UV-A protection. This doesn’t, however, mean that sunscreen does not protect against UV-A. Sunscreens that are listed as “broad spectrum” also provide protection against UV-A radiation. SPF is a multiplication factor that shows how much longer you can be in the sun without burning as compared to your “baseline.” A sunscreen with an SPF of 20, for example, would allow you to stay in the sun 20 times longer without burning. Every person’s baseline is different. In general, those with darker skin tones can stay in the sun longer. However, everyone should wear sunscreen daily, regardless of your skin type or tone.
- CHOOSING THE RIGHT SUNSCREEN: When it comes to choosing a sunscreen, there are several factors to keep in mind. One of the most important is your skin type. For most people, SPF 15 in fine. However, if your skin is fair or burns easily, you will need sunscreen with a higher SPF than someone who has darker pigmentation. If this is your case, choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above. If you have sensitive skin, consider a hypoallergenic or low-irritant sunscreen. If you have dry skin, you will likely be better off with a sunscreen that includes a moisturizing base. If you have oily skin, try one with a lighter base. You may have to try out a few different types before you find one that works for your skin. If you’re going to be exercising or sweating, choose a sunscreen that is water and sweat resistant. However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t need to reapply after swimming or sweating. These sunscreens are not water-proof, just water resistant. Of course, it makes sense to choose a broad spectrum or multi-spectrum sunscreen in order to receive more complete protection.
- APPLYING SUNSCREEN: Sunscreen isn’t effective if you don’t put it on. When you’re applying sunscreen, make sure that you do so properly. You should apply sunscreen on any skin that will be exposed to the sun and the general principle is to reapply every two to four hours.
Posted by Dr. Scott Wilson | 19-06-2015
We hope that you’ve been able to get outside and enjoy the beautiful summer weather we’ve been having lately. Of course, too much exposure to the sun can be dangerous, especially during the summer months. So, if you’re going to be out in the sun, it’s important to remember to protect your skin. That means sunscreen. Wearing sunscreen regularly has been proven to decrease the development of skin cancer, reduce the appearance of facial veins and skin blotchiness and slow down the process of aging and the development of wrinkles. Surprisingly, many people still don’t wear sunscreen regularly – in many cases because they’re confused by the different factors that go into choosing the right one. To help make things easier, here’s what you need to know: