You’ve been directed to protect your skin from the sun. And it’s important since exposure to the sun’s rays places you at risk of skin cancer. But how to best protect your skin against the sun’s onslaught can be complicated.
How do you choose a sunscreen? Is there a difference or are any just good, in terms of protecting your skin? There are, in fact, key factors to consider in selecting a sunscreen.
What is SPF?
SPF is the abbreviation for “sun protection factor.” It is used to estimate UV radiation in relation to the amount of time it takes for a person to normally burn in the sun. The “A” in UVA stands for aging, and the “B” in UVB for burning.
Aging and burning are obviously two negative results of sun exposure. There is a specific formula that will indicate how much sun protection you need to avoid each.
Take the SPF number of your sunscreen and multiply it by the amount of time it takes to burn without protection. This equals the time to burn with protection. For example, SPF30 times 10 minutes will equal 300 minutes of protection before it’s necessary to reapply.
Primary Differences Between Chemical and Physical Sunscreens
The primary difference between chemical and physical sunscreens is how they work.
A chemical sunscreen has ingredients such as octyl methoxycinnamate, octocrylene, and octyl salicylate. These chemical components penetrate the skin, absorbing the sun’s UVA rays before they can cause damage to the dermal layer.
A physical sunscreen contains ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They do not penetrate the skin but remain atop to act as a barrier against the rays. They deflect UVA and UVB.
We recommend using a physical sunscreen to get the greatest protection, and we recognize that those sunscreens may also contain chemical ingredients to further boost the SPF.
Applying the right amount
One reason that people burn even after applying sunscreen is because they fail to apply the right amount. It’s been estimated that people only use between 20 and 50 percent of the recommended daily amount of sun lotion. The recommended amount is 1 ounce or a shot glass amount for your full body.
If you apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen and still find that your skin burns, then you may need to reapply more often and wear protective clothing. How often you reapply sunscreen is dependent upon your activity level or even by the activity itself. If you’re at the pool or beach, the water becomes a factor. Reapply more often. The same applies if your activity makes you sweaty.
Add sunscreen to your daily routine to avoid damage by the sun’s rays. If your skin has already experienced damage, seek attention from a skin specialist who will diagnose the extent of the damage. He or she will also check your skin for signs of skin cancer.
Once you have a sunscreen that is broad spectrum and at least SPF 30, then the best advice we can give is to find a sunscreen that you love. It should be part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth. Find the product that you will enjoy wearing every day.
To discover the right mix of products to best protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun, contact the pros at Vanguard Skin Specialists at (719) 355-1585, or use our online appointment request form. We have four convenient locations in Colorado to serve you.