How do I choose a sunscreen?
Is Sunscreen REALLY Important?
What is SPF?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. This pretty much lets you know how long you can stay in the sun without getting burned from UVB light rays. It's basic math, say you use SPF 15. This means that the sunscreen is allowing 1/15th of the sun-burning rays through your skin compared to the full 15. So the SPF 15 will protect you 15 times more before you start burning. SPF does not protect you from UVA rays.
Do I really have to wear sunscreen?
This is a very simple answer. YES! Everybody needs to wear sunscreen no matter what. Some UV rays penetrate through clouds and windows during all daylight hours so even though you might not directly feel the sun, you are still being affected. It is very important to protect yourself from the sun to prevent premature aging and reduce the risk of skin cancer. Even all the best skin care products in the world can't help you from sun damage.
Breakdown: Chemical (organic) & Mineral (inorganic) sunscreens.
I know what you're thinking because it's what I thought too... The one that says "Organic" must be the best sunscreen to buy. When it comes to sunscreen, this is not the case. If a sunscreen says its "organic", it simply means that it contains carbon. Chemical aka "organic" sunscreens absorb UV radiation and convert it into heat. Mineral aka "inorganic" sunscreens reflect and scatter UV radiation. Not only does it protect you better from the sun but also is less damaging on your skin as well. Chemical sunscreens are known to have a higher rate of allergic reactions from users. It also damages coral reefs, fish, and other wildlife. The best mineral sunscreen to get is zinc oxide sunscreen. It absorbs more UV wavelengths which means it provides better UVA/UVB protection. It is the only sunscreen recognized as safe for babies by the FDA. It is also good for people who suffer from eczema since it is antiseptic, astringent and absorbs moisture. Overall, it it the best for all people with different skin types.
What's the difference between UVA and UVB rays?
UVA light rays are the rays that penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and can lead to premature skin aging, wrinkling and can develop to skin cancer. UVA rays are existent during all hours that the sun is out and they can penetrate through glass and clouds. So even though it might be cloudy out or you're indoors, UVA rays can cause damage without protection.
UVB rays are the ray that cause tanning and burning to the skin. Because UVB rays do burn the superficial layers of the skin, they play a key role in the development of skin cancer. They are strongest between 10:00am and 4:00pm so it is highly important to protect yourselves even more during those hours.
Both UVA/UVB rays cause major damage to the skin so it is recommended to use a broad spectrum sunscreen that will help protect you from both as well as covering yourself properly whenever you can.
What sunscreen should i buy?
What sunscreen you should buy really depends on your skin type, average time it takes you to burn, and severity of the sun. Make sure you figure all of this out before you buy your sunscreen so you buy the correct one. But the one thing that EVERYONE should look for on their sunscreen bottle is Broad Spectrum. Regular sunscreen only protects you from UVB rays, the rays that cause sunburns. Broad Spectrum is the only sunscreen that helps protect you from UVA rays which are the rays that cause aging and may lead to develop skin cancer.
"I am Vitamin D deficient, so I can't wear sunscreen."
False. Even though you are Vitamin D deficient and you need to be in the sunlight, you still need protection from UV rays. 10-15 minutes, twice a week, of sun exposure WITH proper sun protection is recommended and enough for your body to produce all the vitamin D it needs. Hence, it is very important to use sunscreen not just to protect yourselves from the sun but from producing too much vitamin D which can have adverse effects.
When do I reapply sunscreen and why?
Re-application is necessary if you're planning on being in direct exposure for long periods of time. Re-application does NOT mean that it doubles the original amount of extra time you can be in the sun without burning, it just gives it a boost. Remember to reapply every two hours and after swimming, sweating or when you towel dry. If you are going to be exposed to water, make sure to use water resistant sunscreen. Use mineral sunscreen if you're going to be anywhere with water life creatures. Also, cover up when possible if you are planning on being in the sun for a long period of time.
"I wear sunscreen and still get burned."
Sunscreen does not block out all UV rays. This is why it is prohibited from being called "sunblock" now. Sunscreen filters out rays and lets some UV radiation through depending on the SPF level you are using. If you burn easily, try a higher SPF level. Remember, sunscreen only prolongs the time you are able to be exposed to the sun without burning, not prevent you from burning. You still need to protect your skin from direct sun exposure.
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