Sunscreen! I bet you weren’t expecting that? If you were, then I applaud you gal.
SPF, UVA, UBV, physical versus chemical? Sunscreen can be confusing and is overwhelming. There are two types of sunscreen, physical and chemical and two types of UV rays that you need your sunscreen to protect you from. It’s a no brainer that you should be wearing sunscreen daily, so I thought I would provide you with some assistance on how to choose the best product for you by breaking down the details.
If you were to take any keys points from this post to protect your skin, I would suggest to select a broad spectrum and 50+ SPF. I highly recommend listening to The Glow Journal Podcast – SPF Myth Busting with Dr Cara McDonald and checking out the SPF articles on Adore Beauty, as they are the main sources for this blog post and where I managed to learn the most about the topic. It goes without saying, but I would like to stress that I am an educated consumer, not an expert. So please before using this blog post as your holy grail, please seek professional advice.
The following is directly from The Skin Cancer Foundation –
What is UV radiation?
UV radiation is part of the natural energy produced by the sun. On the electromagnetic spectrum, UV light has shorter wavelengths than visible light, so your eyes can’t see UV, but your skin can feel it. Tanning beds also emit UV radiation.
Two types of UV light are proven to contribute to the risk for skin cancer:
- Ultraviolet A (UVA) has a longer wavelength, and is associated with skin aging.
- Ultraviolet B (UVB) has a shorter wavelength and is associated with skin burning.
While UVA and UVB rays differ in how they affect the skin, they both do harm. Unprotected exposure to UVA and UVB damages the DNA in skin cells, producing genetic defects, or mutations, that can lead to skin cancer (as well as premature aging.)
- UVB penetrates and damages the outermost layers of your skin. Overexposure causes suntan, sunburn and, in severe cases, blistering.
- UVB is connected to the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) on labels of sunscreen products. The SPF number tells you how long the sun’s radiation (including some of the UVA) would take to redden your skin when using that product compared to the time without sunscreen.
- UVB intensity fluctuates. While the sun’s rays are strongest and pose the highest risk late-morning to mid-afternoon from spring to fall in temperate climates and even greater timespans in tropical climates, UVB rays can damage your skin year-round, especially at high altitudes or on reflective surfaces like snow or ice.
- UVB rays can be filtered and do not penetrate glass.
- UVA rays cause tanning, and the shorter wavelengths of UVA also cause sunburn. There is no such thing as a safe or healthy tan. UVA radiation is proven to contribute to the development of skin cancer.
- UVA is connected to the “broad-spectrum protection” you see on the labels of sunscreen products. Early sunscreens only protected your skin from UVB rays, but once it was understood how dangerous UVA rays were, sunscreen manufacturers began adding ingredients to protect you from both UVB and UVA across this broader spectrum.
- UVA rays, while slightly less intense than UVB, penetrate your skin more deeply. Exposure causes genetic damage to cells on the innermost part of your top layer of skin, where most skin cancers occur. The skin tries to prevent further damage by darkening, resulting in a tan. Over time, UVA also leads to premature aging and skin cancer.
- UVA radiation is the main type of light used in most tanning beds. Once thought to be safe, we now know it is just the opposite.
- UVA is everywhere. UVA accounts for up to 95 percent of the UV radiation reaching the earth. These rays maintain the same level of strength during daylight hours throughout the year. This means that during a lifetime, we are all exposed to a high level of UVA rays.
- UVA can penetrate windows and cloud cover.
For more you can head to The Skin Cancer Foundation, here.
Physical sunscreen creates a physical barrier between you and the sun. They remain on the surface and are not absorbed into the skin, which is why it is recommended to those with sensitive skin. Physical sunscreens that provide broad-spectrum protection contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These ingredients are usually what creates a white cast on your skin and flash back in photography. A physical sunscreen can be quite thick and may not be the best choice for acne prone skin types.
Chemical sunscreen is the opposite to physical as it penetrates the skin and works to absorb the rays in the outer layer of the skin before they cause damage to the skin. Chemical sunscreen is generally lightweight and doesn’t feel heavy on the skin. The vast majority of sunscreen in a pharmacy is chemical and provide high protection without having to be highly concentrated. As a chemical sunscreen absorbs into the skin, it does not create a white cast on the skin. Some chemical sunscreens have been known to cause irritation, however testing has come a long way and there are a lot of non-irritant chemical sunscreens.
UVA and UVB rays both damage the skin, but they do so in different ways. Full protection from both types of rays can be achieved by wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen. No sunscreen gives you 100% protection of UV rays, so if you want to prevent premature-aging its best to choose the highest SPF. SPF is the sun protection factor and the highest SPF in Australia is 50+ and needs to be re applied as per the instructions. Neither types of sunscreen should penetrate into the body and in most cases sit in the top layer of the skin, working on the surface. SPF in your makeup alone isn’t enough protection, so trial different products until you find one that you like for everyday as your last step in your skin care routine.
I’ve included some goodies for you babes to explore.
I am all about this sunscreen because it adds a radiance to my skin. It is also my go to sunscreen to wear under sunscreen and does not create a white cast.
Applying a hand cream is something that I do daily, so to have the addition of SPF is extremely handy. See what I did there? It makes a lot of sense considering our hands are exposed to the sun whilst doing daily tasks like driving and drinking cocktails. Oh and its super nourishing!
This is a goodie as it has a clip that you can hook onto your hand bag.
The best all over body sunscreen. I am all about a spray because there is nothing worse than being at the beach, rubbing in your sunscreen, getting sand stuck to your hands and then getting it in your eyes. Yes, that has happened to me. The mist is fine, smells delish & is 50 +.
Lira Clinical Solar Shield 30 Oil-Free with PSC
I wear this sunscreen daily as it was prescribed for me at The Aesthetic Skin Clinic and it doesn’t make me break out. It’s oil free, hydrating and comfortable on the skin.
Check out Casey Belle’s previous blog post, here.