Naturally, with the temperature’s warming, my calendar begins to fill up with many outdoor events: Beach trips, barbecues, and early mornings on my patio are all on my radar. Yet with all of these activities and exposure to the sun, it’s easy to not consider if you are doing everything you can to prevent skin cancer and protect your body. Millions of people are negatively effected by the sun every year and the awareness must be brought up. In order to stay healthy and keep our bodies at low risk of disease and cancer, we must get educated, and with May being the official “skin cancer awareness month”, what better time than now?
Did you know daily sunscreen use cuts our risk of Melanoma in half? Studies show that it does, and it takes 5 minutes out of your day to apply the product; that isn’t too much to ask, right? Though, how can we navigate through the sea of sunscreen products to find the best one for you? Here’s some facts to help you narrow down your search, or to hopefully point you in the direction of a great product for your face and body.
Chemical vs Physical: Physical sunscreens provide a broad spectrum of UVA and UVB protection, which reflect or scatter UV radiation before it reaches your skin. They are especially useful for individuals with sensitive skin, as they rarely cause skin irritation. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the energy of UV radiation before it affects your skin. The majority of Chemical sunscreens only offer UVB protection and not UVA (unless it has the UVA blocking agent: Avobenzone in it), which can result in long term skin injury/cancer. I prefer to stick to a physical sunscreen with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. For more information, Check out this great chart highlighting the main differences between the two.
Does anything over SPF 30 really work: Lets look at the facts on this one, an SPF 30 gives at least 95% protection against harmful UVA/UVB rays, yet both an SPF of 55 and 85 shows about a 99% protection rate. No sunscreen gives 100% coverage, and though that extra 4% coverage is essential, it’s mainly used as a marketing technique that many consumers get caught up in. The amount and frequency of application, as well as the kind of quality product your using, is what will contribute mainly to your protection. When shopping for a sunscreen, it’s important to note, though you are looking at the actual number rating (SPF 15, 25 etc) that rating is only based off of UVB and does not include UVA (which is more harmful!), so be sure to look for the “UVA/UVB Protection” or “Broad Spectrum” protection label on the bottle to get full protection and coverage.
When to apply: Sunscreen should be applied liberally to clean, dry skin 20 minutes before going outside. Be sure to cover every exposed part of your body and face (and don’t forget those hands!) Reapply every two hours, or more regularly if you are perspiring or involved in water activities. Keep in mind, even though spray lotions and gels are the least oily, they are also the ones that wash off easily and need to be reapplied more frequently.
Product Recommendations: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch, Laura Mericer Tinted Moisturizer, Eucerin Everyday Protective Face Lotion, La Roche-Posay Anthelios Cream (Top rated!) Dermalogica Solar Defense Booster (My personal fave, so versatile!)