You know you're suppose to wear Sunscreen,
but do you really know what Sunscreen is?
I'm a huge advocator for sunscreen. Especially, if you are my facial client trying to improve or maintain healthy skin.
Sunscreen is a lotion, spray, gel, cream or powder that either absorbs and/or reflects some of the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This prevents sunburns, premature aging and aids in the prevention of precancerous and cancerous skin cells. Sunscreen can be composed of both a physical blocker and/or chemical sunscreen.
What's a Physical Blocker?
A physical blocker contains mineral ingredients - zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. These ingredients sit on top of the skin and act like a shield. They deflect damaging UV rays from the skin. Physical blockers are sometimes referred to as Sunblock instead of Sunscreen.
What's a Chemical Sunscreen?
Most chemical sunscreens are ingredients that can convert UV Rays into heat and then release it from the skin. Chemical sunscreens are sometimes referred to as chemical absorbs. Now don't worry - just because I said the work chemical doesn't mean all chemical sunscreens are bad. Remember water is a chemical.
Not all chemical sunscreen absorb. Some chemical sunscreens absorb and scatter UV rays. Not all Physical blockers reflect and scatter. Some physical sunscreens absorb and reflect. But these general definitions will help you understand the sunscreen world.
What are UV Rays?
Sunlight contains - visible full spectrum of light, invisible UV rays (UltraViolet Radiation) and Infrared waves. The sun's UV rays are composed of UVB, UVA and UVC. Do you remember my blog post onLED? In my Light Therapy blog posts I explained health benefits of isolated wavelengths found in the visible full spectrum light.
The part of the spectrum you can't see, UV Rays, create damage to the skin.
What's UVB & UVA?
UVB is commonly referred to as "Burning Rays", because they are the primary cause of a sunburn.
UVA is commonly referred to as the "Aging Rays', because they go deeper into the skin to cause wrinkles, sun spots, and are your primary source of premature aging.
UVA & UVB involve so much more than these simple definitions above, that's why I have an blog post dedicated just to UVA & UVB. Once you read it - you'll never look at your sunscreen the same way.
SPF is a measure of sun protection from UVB rays. The most important definition for SPF is from the FDA since they regulate SPF measurements and recommendations. However, not all sunscreen companies follow regulations.
The FDA measures "the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure it takes to cause sunburn when a person is using a sunscreen in comparison to how much UV exposure it takes to cause a sunburn when they do not use a sunscreen."
"SPF is related to time of solar exposure and the amount of solar exposure. Although solar energy amount is related to solar exposure time, there are other factors that impact the amount of solar energy. For example, the intensity of the solar energy impacts the amount." - FDA
To simplify, the sun's solar exposure is strong in the middle of the day, at the equator, and in different seasons. Basically, the closer you are on the earth to the sun the stronger the solar exposure - regardless of time. amount of time you are in the sun. At 12pm you will burn faster than at 8am because you are closer to that big ball of fire in the sky! This type of exposure is measured by the UV index - blog post on UV Index coming soon!
What's Broad Spectrum?
Broad Spectrum mean that the sunscreen product offers protection from both UVA and UVB. This is currently the US's only indicator of UVA protection that is regulated. My preferred method of measure of UVA protection is the PA+ system. Broad Spectrum test are fairly new to the FDA.
PA+ is a Japanese and Korean rating system for UVA protection. The + indicates the level of protection from UVA rays. The more ++++'s the more protection. This system isn't regulated in the US so you must look for broad spectrum on your sunscreens. I would absolutely love if the FDA to a specific measure of UVA ray protection since they go deeper into the skin.
Did you enjoy this post?
More Sun Care blog posts
Why Should I Wear Sunscreen? Is Sunlight Bad for you?...coming soon
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The information and opinions presented are intended for educational purposes only and are not to be used for diagnosis and treatment, or a substitute for a professional medical advice.