Thursday, March 29, 2012

All You Need to Know About SPF & Sunscreen

Why is sunscreen such an important beauty regime, how high of SPF do you need, and everything you need to know before deciding on sunscreen

What is SPF?

The short form stands for Sun Protection Formula. The scientific measuring process includes exposing human subjects to artificial sun lights. Sunscreen is applied to some subjects and some others have to face the ‘sun lights’ without protection. The result (SPF number) is achieved from dividing the amount of light that induces redness in sunscreen-protected skin by the amount of light that induces redness in unprotected skin. In simple words, SPF number states the effectiveness of a sunscreen product. The higher the SPF is, the more protection it gives against the ultraviolet.

Why is it such an important beauty regime?

Our earth is suffering from the damaged ozone layer, hence humans are more prone to the radiation wave from the sunlight. While being in the sun during the morning is advisable for the sake of your skin and bones, the afternoon sun is damaging for it contains strong UVA and UVB lights. While UVB causes visible outer skin damage like sunburn, UVA is goes deeper in the skin and causes more detrimental effects including premature skin aging and skin cancer.

The difference between young and aged skin (Credits: Shands.org)

How high of SPF does your skin need?

Although sunlight radiation seems scary, it does not mean you should go running to the drugstore for the sunscreen with the highest SPF number, because double SPF number does not mean double protection. SPF15 provides 93% protection against the UVB while SPF100 blocks 99% of the UVB. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing an SPF of 15-30 for daily use, with a few reapplying throughout the day.

How to choose the best sunscreen?

While cosmetic scientists are still working to produce a wholesome protection to block the UVA, sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection is advisable for all users. The term you are looking for while sunscreen shopping are: ‘UVA/UVB protection’ or ‘broad spectrum protectant’.

You should find one of these ingredients in your sunscreen: zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, octocrylene, benzophenones (such as avonbenzone) for they have the capability of blocking both UVA and UVB rays.

For those with oily skin, opt for oil-free, water-based, and non-comedogenic sunscreen products.

If you are looking for the sunscreen for your beach holiday, choose ‘waterproof’ over ‘water resistant’ for the former protects you from the ultraviolet for up to 80 minutes.

Who should wear sunscreen?

Anyone above 6 months of age should wear sunscreen, for most windows do not protect UVA rays. SPF15 is enough for those who are only exposed to the sun for a short while throughout the day. Those working outdoors should wear the beach-type sunscreen that offers stronger protection.

Sunscreen facts & myths: explained

  1. FACT: Try to stay away from direct sunlight during peak sunlight hours between 10am – 3pm. That is when ultraviolet is the harshest for the skin
  2. MYTH: Sunscreen causes vitamin D deficiency. No studies have proven so, plus a healthy diet consisting salmon, egg, orange juice, and milk should provide us with sufficient amount of vitamin D
  3. FACT: Sweat deceases sunscreen, hence it is important to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours if you are the type that sweat a lot