Sunscreen questions answered[ Edited ]
When, which, how much Sunscreen to apply and how high of SPF. The article is from Refinery29 and answered most of my questions, hope it's helpful to you, too. Basically you should wear SPF30 or more with broad spectrum protection. You should apply ~1 shot glass full every 2-3 hours and wear protective clothing, especially when the sun is strongest (10am-4pm). Darker skins are just as much at risk for UV damage as lighter skin. Different SPF types have the same effectiveness and are mostly down to preference. Here's the complete article:
There has been a lot of controversy and confusion over SPF numbers and labeling, which is a big part of why the FDA has created new label laws. "The FDA changed the SPF guidelines so that consumers could clearly understand the risks involved with skin exposure and how to properly protect themselves from the sun's damaging rays," says Dr. Diane Berson, M.D., a New York City dermatologist and Olay Professional Alliance member. "To make sunscreen packaging less confusing, the FDA is requiring manufacturers to identify whether or not their products have broad spectrum protection — protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Years ago sunscreen products only touted UVB protection since this radiation led to burning; however, UVA rays also cause sun damage. UVA rays, while less intense than UVB, can actually penetrate deeper into the skin resulting in sun damage years later."
Okay, but what about all those numbers? Does an SPF 100 actually work any better than an SPF 30? According to dermatologist Dr. Doris Day, that answers is: kind of. "A sunscreen's SPF measures how long unprotected skin can be exposed to UVB rays before burning, compared with how long it takes to burn without protection," she says. "Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 would prevent sunburn 15 times longer than if the product weren't used. Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 effectively filters out about 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays, while SPF 30 keeps out 97 percent and SPF 50, 98 percent." Adds Dr. Berson, "If it takes you one minute to burn normally, by using an SPF 15 it will take you 15 minutes to burn. If you take 5 minutes, with SPF 15 it will take you 75 minutes to burn. This length of protection increases more and more as you go up in SPF."
Dr. Day says that those high SPF sunscreens can make a real difference for people with extreme photosensitivity, like those with lupus, people taking medication that increases sensitivity to the sun, outdoor sports enthusiasts who are outside for many hours at a time, or for those whose skin always burns rather than tans. "No one applies enough sunscreen to get the true SPF," she adds. "Even if you’re doing a 30 SPF, you’re lucky if you are getting 10 SPF. So it really depends how much you put on the exposed area."
Sunscreen Golden Rules
So just how much should you be putting on? According to both derms you should be applying a shot glass full (we think we can remember that measurement) of sunscreen — this should cover you from top to toe. If you feel you need more, use it, but never use less than that as you won't be properly protecting yourself. Dr. Berson says that you should be wearing sunscreen whenever you are outside, regardless of the weather. "Even when it's late in the day, cloudy, or you're sitting behind a glass window, you're still exposed. This damage accumulates over time and manifests on your skin years later through uneven skin tone, age spots, fine lines, wrinkles, and in some cases, melanoma," she says.
Where most people mess up and get burned is by not reapplying. You should be reapplying at least every two hours, says Dr. Berson, especially if you've gotten your skin wet in that time. In addition to applying that sunscreen before you leave the house, Dr. Day also says you should take a few more preventative measures. "Wear protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat, and seek shade when UV rays are strongest — between 10am and 4pm. Also, be extra cautious when near water, snow, and sand. Finally, don't seek out the sun for vitamin D, rather get your intake via your diet, or at the very least supplements."
Another sticky spot for most people is the scalp. If you've ever burned the top of your head, you know what we're talking about here. You can wear a hat, but Dr. Day says it's also beneficial to spray some clear sunscreen or brush powder SPF on your noggin. There are also a lot of hair care products that now have built-in UV protection. Dr. Day says having a clear part in your hair can also lead to burning (that skin is exposed and not hidden by your hair), so brush your hair back or wear it up if you plan to be outside.
Finally, let's put to rest that whole bit of nonsense about dark skin not being at risk for UV damage. "No skin is immune to sunburn," says Dr. Mona Gohara. "In fact, a recent survey from the Archives of Dermatology showed that 65% of minority respondents were under the false impression that they were not at risk for skin cancer, despite the fact that most of them had burned."
We have so many options in this day and age, it can be hard to tell which is right for you. Let Dr. Berson break it down for you: "Different sunscreen delivery methods are great for various skin types as well as personal preference. If you have oily skin and larger pores, gels or clear liquids are great. If you have drier, more sensitive skin you might want to stick with a cream or lotion. Sprays are great for kids, athletes, and men to cover hair-prone arms, legs, chests, and backs. Wipes are also a great option when traveling as you can just stick them in your bag or purse." For wornen with darker skin, Dr. Gohara suggests using a "cosmetically elegant formula that does not leave the skin chalky or white." Her picks? La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid or CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM.
There are also different types of sunscreen you can try: chemical and physical. Says Dr. Day, chemical sunscreen contains special ingredients that act as filters to reduce UV radiation penetration to the skin. These types of SPF are usually colorless and maintain a thin, visible film on the skin. They also contain UV-absorbing chemicals. Conversely, physical sunscreens, also called sunblocks, contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which physically block ultraviolet radiation. Both methods are effective, so it really comes down to personal preference, or if your skin has any sensitivity to specific ingredients.
- "Sun 101: The Safe Way To Catch A Few Rays"
Great article beautytester! Really covers all the top points in easy to understand format. Now if only the FDA would approve the sunscreens that are available in Europe and Asia that work better than the stuff available here...
Answered[ Edited ]
I'm glad that someone else is as interested in learning about SPF. I brought this up to someone recently. Here's the article I found. It's from Women's Health Magazine. The title of the article, "10 New Sunscreen Secrets."
I called my dermatolgist to get further advice. Generally speaking she made some comments about vitamin A within sunscreen. She says that this was a study on lab rats, as stated in Women's Health article, and there is not enough stated about humans. Still, if you don't feel safe having vitamin A in sunscreen (I'd also assume this includes face cream/body lotion that has vitamin A and soon after applying sunscreen) look into buying products without. For anyone else, I would contact your dermatologist for advice specific to you.
I'll be interested in keeping updated on this topic. Sephora has a lot of great physical products. One example, LAVANILA's lip sunscreen and so many more products.
Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for posting this beauty tester!
I was just reading a similar article which breaks down the changes to the spf laws and how you can determine the best one for you. It's always hard to explain to someone how they should choose their sunscreen and when to re-apply. I just tried to do so for my visiting sister today.. she ignored all my advice, got an SPF 15 and burned herself to a crisp. Not safe or good for the skin at ALL!