Sun Protection Basics

Summer is here which means the temperatures are warmer and the sun is stronger than ever.  I have to admit, I took sun protection for granted for a really long time.  I wouldn’t wear sunscreen and would just assume that because I already have darker skin, that I wouldn’t burn or be affected.  Well that was totally wrong.  Not only have I burned but I have seen first hand the effects that sun damage can have on your skin.  The topic of sun protection is a complicated one and there is alot of information out there.  I’m taking the opportunity today to break down some of the basics and provide information that I’ve learned over the last little while.  I’m also sharing some of the products I’m currently using to keep myself protected this summer and all year round.

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The Basics:

  • SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor
  • It blocks harmful ultraviolet rays from damaging your skin
  • The sun actually emits three types of rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC rays
    • UVA – most common and present all year round.  They are not responsible for sunburns because they penetrate the skin layer and therefore are more responsible for skin cancer and skin aging.
    • UVB – causes sunburns because it stops at the dermis layer of the skin.  More common around fall and spring and sunscreen will protect against these rays
    • UVC – doesn’t penetrate the ozone layer
  • Fragrance Free – means that some component has still been added to the product to cover the scent of the ingredients
  • Unscented – means the product doesn’t use scented ingredients

Sunscreen

Broad spectrum sunscreen is the ideal type you should purchase, these protect against both types of UV rays.

The SPF number tells you how long the sun’s UV radiation would take to redden your skin when using the product exactly as directed versus the amount of time without any sunscreen. So ideally, with SPF 30 it would take you 30 times longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen.

Products I Use:

My skin does run on the sensitive side so I have tried and test a bunch of different products.  The ones I’m loving right now are:

For my Face:  FRE Protect Me Defense Facial Moisturizer
I love this product because it doesn’t irritate my skin and feels so light that I can wear it all day and under make-up.  It has an SPF of 30 and “shields your skin from the harmful effects of sweat and environmental conditions. Last but not least, it protects your skin from the sun’s damaging UVA, UVB and IRA rays, and from other environmental effects such as air pollution.”

For my Body:  Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen SPF 60
I use this all over when I know I’ll be outside for a long period of time.  It doesn’t leave white streaks, is quick absorbing and light.  I also don’t get that greasy feel like some sunscreens do.  They have a spray version too which I’ll take if I go to the beach or park.  Easy for reapplication but don’t like using it indoors because sprays often leave a mess on the floors.  This one protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

OR

Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Clear Sunscreen Spray SPF 30
This one also protects against both types of rays and is a good option for every day use as well.  Again, because its a spray I’ll usually take this one with me for reapplication because it gets messy to apply indoors.

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Some Final Tips

  • Look for a broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with SPF 30
  • Apply it liberally and continue to reapply throughout the day
  • A higher SPF doesn’t necessarily mean you’re protected for a longer period of time
  • Factors like time, sweat and water exposure all contribute to lowering a sunscreen’s power
  • Pay close attention to your skin. Check yourself regularly for any changes in skin coloration, texture, or any new moles or growths
  • Make sure you visit your dermatologist at least once a year for a full body skin check and analysis

Happy summer everyone!

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