Despite the dramatic drop in temperatures here in Central Texas, the sun will come out tomorrow as they say. With the abundance of sunshine here and generally wacky weather I thought it would be a good time to get real about sunscreen. In sticking with the theme of skin for this season, I wanted to get real about sunscreen. It really is the first line of defense in the anti-aging game.
Why sunscreen or sunblock? As you may know, as the sun shines its rays down on to your chic beach day or backyard party, ultraviolet rays, or UV as they are commonly referred to, can wreak havoc on the skin. UV rays you often hear about are UVA and UVB rays. The rays that will burn your skin are UVB rays and they tend to be at their peak during midday. UVA rays, however, are the rays that will cause premature aging to the skin because they penetrate the skin more deeply damaging the skin in deeper layers causing the appearance of aging.
While the sun contains both UVA and UVB rays, tanning beds contain UVA rays. Both types of rays, not just UVB rays as thought in years past, can contribute to skin cancer. Cosmetic companies have taken the liberty of adding UV protection into foundations and other emollient products as a way to add an extra layer of sunscreen to your skin.
Protecting the skin using sunscreen or sunblock is the best way to protect your skin, but how do you choose? There are so many different sunscreens on the market, but they are divided into two main categories, physical sunscreens and chemical sunscreens and a third smaller group that combines physical and chemical sunscreens together.
Chemical sunscreens are easily absorbed into the skin and often mix several chemicals together in order to protect the wearer from the UV rays. Ingredients such as Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Avobenzone, Octisalate, Octocrcylene, Homosalate are all indicators that a chemical sunscreen is present. Oxybenzone is a very common ingredient derived from Benzophenone. Oxybenzone is found in sunscreen as the UV blocking agent, but is also in other cosmetic products and some foods. Chemical sunscreens work by penetrating into the skin and absorb or scatter the sun’s rays. After about 20 minutes the wearer is protected against UVA and UVB rays. Chemical sunscreens are popular because they absorb into the skin without leaving a residue, are widely available and covers the UVA/UVB spectrum pretty well.
Physical sunscreens block the UV rays by reflecting the rays off of the surfaces in which they are applied with the help of minerals like Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide. Titanium Dioxide is a little more limiting when it comes to the amount of UV rays they protect the wearer against. Zinc based physical sunscreens protect the wearer from the full spectrum of UVA and UVB rays.
In addition to the type of sunscreen or sunblock to choose from, SPF is something that confuses so many people. SPF stands for sun protection factor and is an amount of time the wearer will be protected from the sun’s UVB rays. The common misconception here is that the higher the SPF the more protection of the UVB rays and that isn’t necessarily so. This can be even more confusing because figuring out the SPF isn’t an exact science either as people with fair skin or those who don’t get outside much or even where you are in the world can cause you to burn faster.
So now that we are educated on what sunscreen is and why to wear it, there are some other factors that may weigh in your decision about what type of sun protection you choose to wear. Some truth bombs about chemical sunscreens and I have to say, they have gotten some pretty bad press. Many wearers of chemical sunscreens complain that it irritates their eyes or gives them a rash, which is attributed to the chemicals used to block the UV rays. They have also gotten a lot of heat from different organizations claiming that they have destroyed coral reefs (although the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the destruction of the reefs are from global warming and other environmental factors) and that they have the potential to disrupt endocrine and hormone levels in wearers. There are Oxybenzone free chemical sunscreen options, however, but if any of that info weirds you out or you can always get a physical sunscreen.
Some physical sunscreen truth bombs is that Titanium Dioxide, which is found in so many foundations and powders these days does have that “flash back” when taking photos. You know what I’m talking about, that white cast to your face in photos. It’s super annoying for some, especially makeup artists who don’t want a white cast over our client’s faces in photos.
Take home message: Everyone needs vitamin D in their life, so saying you're going to avoid the sun altogether is not realistic. Limiting your sun exposure and kicking tanning beds to the curb will help keep your skin healthy, but also wearing the appropriate sunscreen is important! Experts say that you should choose a sunscreen that is water resistant, protects against both UVA and UVB rays, and at least an SPF of 30. Don’t be afraid to have more than one type of sunscreen to meet your day’s activities. Some sunscreens that I love are Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen (purchase here), Bobbi Brown SPF 50 Protective Face Base (purchase here), and Clinique Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Fluid For Face (purchase here).
There are so many more and I'd love to hear more from you about what your favorite sunscreen is. Feel free to email me here to share your favorite!
See you all next week!