Sun protection is crucial for your skin. You’re probably using sunscreen every day, but do you know how to use it?
- Higher SPF doesn’t mean better protection – it means longer protection. SPF of 15 filters up to 95% of the UVs while SPF50 up to 98%. But the higher the SPF number, the longer you can stay in the sun without burning. In theory, SPF of 15 means you can safely be in the sun up to 15 times longer than you could without using sunscreen. This is only a guideline and it is 100% valid only if you’re using the sunscreen correctly and reapplying as indicated.
- Less is NOT more. Apply generous amounts of sunscreen lotion– and make sure you reapply as needed. You can lose protection even when you sweat or rub your skin.
- UV-Bs are the ultraviolet rays that burn your skin – but not the only ones to cause damage! While UV-As only cause sun burns in large doses, they are still associated with aging and other detrimental changes to the skin because of their action on the collagen and elastin fibrils. UV-As are milder, but they are still not safe. So make sure you choose a sunscreen that guards skin from both UV-As and UV-Bs.
- The SPF number only measures the amount of UV-B protection you get. It doesn’t measure the amount of UV-A protection, which is given by another number. When purchasing a product, try to find out the UV-A protection factor. If this is not available, a broad-spectrum sunscreen which protects against both A and B rays will suffice.
- Clothes are not an efficient barrier against sun damage. Wear sunscreen on your entire body under your clothes when you spend lots of time outdoors. Clothes only have a SPF of 4 up to 7, not enough to protect during longer sun exposure.
- Tan is the skin’s defense reaction to the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays. It eventually acts as a filter for ultraviolet rays (partially) but this doesn’t recommend using your newly achieved tan as SPF. The beginning stage of tanning is essentially skin inflammation and the tan itself is just damaged skin which can be seriously affected when overexposed to sun.
- Layering sunscreen lotions will not multiply the SPF protection. If you apply a lotion with SPF 15 and then makeup with SPF 20, the total SPF you’re benefiting from is 20; the SPF you end up with is the highest one you have applied.
- Sunscreen will not prevent body from producing the necessary amount of Vitamin D. Your skin needs UV-B rays to make vitamin D. While these can be filtered out by sunscreen, you only need approximately 10 minutes of sun a day for producing vitamin D – which you are likely to get considering people almost never apply sunscreen correctly and just a little time outdoors is enough. Be careful though: your skin stops producing Vitamin D a few minutes after sun exposure. Sunbathing for hours will not increase your vitamin D levels.
|Article by Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement. Read more about Dr. Murad.|