Sunscreen has become an essential part of my daily skincare routine. Not only does it protect the skin from sunburn, but it also protects from UV rays that can lead to long-lasting sun damage like premature aging and discoloration. Join The RéView Editors in conversation with Mary Rodrigues, RéVive’s SVP of Marketing and E-Commerce, and learn all about sunscreen and its importance.
Navigating through all the information on sun protection can be daunting and leave you with more questions than answers. May is Melanoma Awareness Month and the perfect time to breakdown what you need to know and get some simple steps to stay sun safe.
Your Guide to SPF
What is UVA/UVB?
Let’s start at the source: What can damage our skin? Sunlight consists of two types of harmful UV rays that reach the earth. Many of us have experienced a sun burn at some point in our life. That burn comes from UVB rays, “the burning rays,” which are present when we’re outdoors. UVB rays fluctuate and are stronger from spring to fall as well as during the middle portion of the day. UVA rays are the “aging rays” and are present on sunny days, cloudy days and even on days you don’t leave your home because they can pass-through windows. They are the same strength all year and all day long. UVA rays are dubbed the “aging” rays because they can prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkles and age spots. The damage caused by UVA rays is subtle and accumulates over time.
What does SPF mean?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and helps protect against UVB rays. The SPF number refers to how long UV radiation would take to redden your skin when using the product as directed. For example, if you use an SPF 15 product exactly as directed, it will take you 15 times longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen. While no SPF number will protect skin 100%, using an SPF 30 or SPF 50 can block between 97%-98% of UVB rays.
How do I Protect from UVA rays?
Look for products that offer “broad-spectrum protection”! This means they protect from both UVB and UVA rays. To achieve broad spectrum coverage, a product needs to be formulated with a combination of sunscreen ingredients. The only sunscreen ingredient that protects effectively from UVA and UVB on its own is zinc oxide.
Mineral or Chemical?
Products can contain one of two sunscreen systems. Mineral, also known as physical sunscreen, sits on the skin’s surface and deflects the sun’s rays, like a mirror. Chemical sunscreens penetrate the skin and absorb the sun’s rays, converting them into heat energy that is then released from the skin. Both systems can provide broad spectrum protection.
Do we really need to reapply?
Take the time to apply your sunscreen properly and thoroughly. The FDA instructs applying sunscreen liberally to achieve the UV protection indicated on the label. To make sure you’re fully covered, try to apply sunscreen before you leave your home, while looking in a mirror, so you don’t miss a spot. By doing this, you’re also applying the suggested 15-20 minutes before sun exposure. And yes, you should reapply every two hours, after swimming, sweating or even after using a towel as you can rub sunscreen off, leaving your skin exposed. That said, applying sunscreen is just one way to prevent sun damage; remember to use an umbrella, wear a hat, sunglasses, and sun protective clothing.
Information is Power
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Skin cancer can affect anyone, regardless of gender or skin color. Exposure to UV light is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers. The Skin Cancer Foundation reports that an estimated 90 percent of skin aging is caused by the sun. And if you think a tanning bed is a better option to get that sun kissed glow, you may be surprised to learn that more people develop skin cancer because of indoor tanning than develop lung cancer because of smoking.
Top Picks and Tips
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m a sunscreen enthusiast. I’ve worn a broad-spectrum moisturizer for as long as I can remember. I’ve taught my friends and family the biggest anti-aging secret: Protect your skin from sun exposure to prevent signs of aging. Some of my favorite products include Sensitif Day Cream SPF 30. On weekends, I’m a huge fan of combining our Soleil Supérieur Broad Spectrum SPF 50 with a few drops of Defensif Environmental Antioxidant Booster before I go out for a long walk. Our Soleil Supérieur Body Broad Spectrum SPF 50 comes with a convenient pump, which I love, because I can easily apply it to my hands, arms, and decolletage as part of my morning routine, leaving me covered as I go to work or run errands. For a nice, tan look, I reach for self-tanner; either a traditional formula or one that provides buildable color like Bronzé Superiéur Self-Tan Booster which can easily be added into my body cream or face moisturizer.
Tip: Don’t let your hands show your age, remember UVA rays can penetrate windows so keep sunscreen in your car and don’t forget to protect your hands before driving.