Being based in Florida, we are well aware of the many perks of living in the Sunshine State. With that in mind, we are even more aware of the need to protect ourselves and our skin from any harmful effects from exposure to the sun's rays. Our goal at Florida Skin Center is to keep you informed and equipped to stay safe in the sun.
What does SPF mean?
The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) you see on the label (which can go from 2 to 50 and even higher) refers to the product's ability to screen or block out the sun's harmful rays.
A higher number does not necessarily indicate a proportionally stronger protection. While an SPF of 2 will absorb 50% of ultraviolet radiation, an SPF of 15 absorbs 93%, an SPF of 30 absorbs 97% and an SPF of 45 absorbs 99%.
Selecting the right product
With so many brands of sun protection available, choosing the right sunscreen can be difficult. Dr. Badia strongly recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF 30 or greater year-round for all skin types. Those who are fair-skinned and sunburn easily may choose to select a sunscreen with a higher SPF to provide additional protection.
Choose a "broad-spectrum" sunscreen that protects against UVB and UVA rays. UVA and UVB rays are two different kinds of ultraviolet light that comes from the sun. UVA Rays penetrate the skin more deeply, breaking down collagen and is considered the chief culprit behind wrinkling, leathering, and other aspects of “photo aging” (think A=Aging). UVB rays are “tanning rays” they cause our skin to become red and burn. UVB rays are considered the main cause of Basal and Squamous Cell Carcinomas as well as Melanoma (think B=Burning). Look for a sunscreen that says “Broad Spectrum”, this will give you a higher protection from both UVA and UVB light.
Even the best sunscreen will start to break down as soon as you are exposed to UVA and UVB light, water or sweat. The key to not burning is to reapply every two hours. Recently the FDA has removed “Waterproof” from all sunscreen and replaced it with “Water Resistant” so keep your sunscreen working to it’s max you need to reapply every 40-60 minutes when in water.
What is the difference between sunscreen and sunblock?
Sunscreens chemically absorb and destroy UV energy while sun block physically deflects them. Sunblocks usually have Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. Anyone with especially sensitive skin might choose sunblock over sunscreen in some cases, since Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are less irritating than some chemicals found in sunscreen. However, since sunblock is a physical barrier to the sun, it can be difficult to spread evenly over large areas. There are some products that are a combination of sunscreen and sunblock, which allow for easy application while still including the beneficial ingredients of sunblock.
Some good examples of products with these ingredients are SolBar Zinc SPF 38 and Theraderm Platinum Protection SPF 30.
When should you use a sunscreen?
Sunscreens should be used daily if you are going to be in the sun for more than 20 minutes. Most people will receive this amount of sun exposure while performing routine activities. They can be applied under makeup. There are many cosmetic products available today that contain sunscreens for daily use because sun protection is the principal means of preventing premature aging and skin cancer. Sunscreen used on a regular basis actually allows some repair of damaged skin.
Don't reserve the use of these products for only sunny summer days. Even on a cloudy day, 80% of the sun's ultraviolet rays pass through the clouds. So even though you may not be able to see the sun, being outside still means you're exposed to UVA and UVB rays.
Sunforgettable SPF 50 is a highly refined mineral sunscreen that provides safe, non-irritating, UVA and UVB sun protection. The self-dispensing powder brush makes it easy to apply and re-apply throughout the day for continued coverage.
How much sunscreen should you use and how often should you apply it?
It recommended to apply sunscreen to your dry skin 30 minutes BEFORE going outdoors. Pay particular attention to your face, ears, hands and arms. One ounce of sunscreen should be enough to cover all areas on your body. Be careful to cover exposed areas, a missed spot could mean a patchy, painful sunburn.
Lips get sunburned too, so apply a lip balm that contains sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher. Sunscreens should be applied in the morning and reapplied after swimming or perspiring heavily.
Call FSC if you have any questions about sun protection.