We cannot emphasize enough the importance of wearing broad-spectrum waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. We are proud to offer top-of-the-range sunscreen products from luxury brands such as SkinMedica and EltaMD to protect your delicate skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
What Does SPF Mean?
SPF stands for sun protection factor. It is measured numerically to indicate the amount of time sunscreen protects you from ultraviolet (UV) rays. It is essential to wear sunscreen all year round, not only during summer. Sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB light. UVB rays affect the epidermis (outer layer of the skin), while UVA rays affect the dermis (lower skin level). UVA light fastens the skin’s aging process, while UVB light is the most damaging to the skin since it causes reddening, sunburn, and skin cancer. UVA rays tan the skin, but a darker skin color indicates damage to the dermis cells.
The SPF numbers only refer to the UVB rays, and it doesn’t measure UVA protection. Finding a sunscreen that protects you from UVA and UVB rays would be best. To estimate how long you are protected, here is an example. Let us say your skin burns after 30 minutes in the sun, and you use an SPF 15 sunscreen. Multiply the SPF 15 by 30 minutes to get 450 minutes of protection.
Ideally, it would be best if you reapply sunscreen every two hours. This is due to improper application, and most sunscreens wear off before being exposed to the elements. For more protection, choose a sunscreen with a high SPF. SPF 15 blocks 93%, SPF 30 blocks 97%, SPF 50 blocks 98%, and SPF 100 blocks 99% of UVB rays. No sunscreen blocks 100% of UV rays.
Sunscreen offers terrific benefits for the skin, including:
- Minimizes redness of the skin
- Protects the skin from the harmful rays of the sun (ultraviolet rays)
- Improves skin health by protecting the elements of the skin like protein or collagen
- Protects the skin for a more extended period from exposure to the sun
- Sunscreen helps control skin inflammation
- Helps protect the skin from discoloration leading to a smooth, even skin tone
- Helps prevent heat exhaustion and sunburn that could put you at risk of skin cancer
- Protects the skin’s antioxidant defense system by preventing the formation of free radicles
- Prevents the early signs of premature aging, such as sunspots, sagging, dry skin, wrinkles, fine lines, pigmentation, and photodamage
Ways You Can Further Protect Yourself from UV Rays
Before applying makeup, apply sunscreen directly to your skin and allow it to set. You can reapply a thin layer on top of your makeup every 2 hours. Ideally, for maximum protection, you should wash it off and reapply. However, it is not always possible to do this. If you can, choose makeup with added sun protection.
You should apply sunscreen all over your body before dressing up, and do not forget your neck, behind your knees, tops of your ears, scalp, and the tops of your feet. No sunscreen is perfect; therefore, in addition to wearing sunscreen daily, you can further protect your skin from aging and other skin issues you can:
- Stay away from tanning beds since they increase cancer risk
- Wear protective clothing like wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses, and keep your legs and arms as much as possible. Stay in areas with shade if possible. Not all clothing can protect you from sun damage. Light fabrics such as cotton, silk, or crepe can allow the sun through. Avoid wearing light-colored clothes; instead, wear dark, dense fabrics like denim, wool, polyester, or rayon plus heavy.
- Stay away from the sun during midday to avoid the risk of sunburn because the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. Stay hydrated throughout the day.
- Regularly examine your skin for any new changes, such as growths
- Always wear sunscreen on cloudy days since up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can still penetrate through the clouds.
- Sunscreen should be worn all year round, including during winter. This is because the snow can reflect up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays. During the winter, the ozone layer (the earth’s atmosphere that absorbs most of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation) thins out. This means you are at high risk of sun damage since there is less defense against harmful UV rays.
- You should also wear sunscreen indoors since the sun’s rays can penetrate through the window glass. A room full of sunlight rays can expose you to a similar amount of UV rays, just like when you are outdoors.
- Wear sunscreen when you are in high-altitude areas, like when you are going on ski vacations, because the higher the altitude, the greater the UV exposure. Additionally, the snow reflects up to 80% of the harmful rays. Wearing sunscreen on the exposed body parts like your face helps protect your skin from the snow’s reflection of the sun.
What to Look for When Choosing Sunscreen
There are various sunscreen products on the market. Choosing one that covers all your skin needs, protecting you from the early signs of aging and sun damage is significant damage. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher protects the skin from UVA and UVB rays. SPF 15 is ideal for occasional exposure, while SPF 30 is ideal for extended outdoor activities.
Water-resistant sunscreen for intense physical activity and swimming. It is effective for up to 40 minutes of swimming, while very water-resistant sunscreens are effective for up to 80 minutes of swimming. It is important to note that sunscreen products are not waterproof and they eventually wear or wash off.
Our board-certified dermatologist recommends:
EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 Sunscreen
This contains high-quality ingredients like antioxidants and niacinamide, which offer natural coverage with sun protection and minimize irritation from acne blemishes. It can be used on its own as a sheer base or under makeup, and it is lightweight and oil-free.
SkinMedica Total Defense + Repair SPF 34 – Untinted
SkinMedica contains clinically tested ingredients that offer comprehensive protection against UVB, UVA rays, and Infrared-A. It is lightweight and includes a blend of antioxidants that prevents aging while keeping the skin strong against environmental stressors. It also contains a combination of physical and chemical sunscreen ingredients to shield against the sun’s harmful rays while reducing fine lines and wrinkles and improving skin tone and texture. This sunscreen is ideal for all skin types and is paraben and fragrance-free.
Contact Oakland Hills Dermatology today for more information on choosing the best sunscreen for your skin.