Friday, August 6, 2010

What you need to know about sun protection.

Hey Chicas!

I was talking to a fellow co-worker the other day, and as the topic usually does it drifted to makeup/skincare…(I’m likely the cause of those shifts..hehe) then onto sun protection. I don’t know if it is because of the course in esthetics and other skincare types ones, but she didn’t know too much about sun protection products, other than its good to wear them outside. Which is good to know but there is soo much more to it.

That got me thinking…maybe there are lots of you out there that don’t know either. So I thought that a great new post would be about sun protection….especially the difference between sunblock and sunscreen (there is one ya know). Hopefully this will help you get the most out of what is left for our summer on the east cost of Canada.
Well I’m sure that we have all walked down the “seasonal” isle at our local drugstore and were floored by the large selection of sun protection products. They have expensive ones, to store brand ones, all at different price points, SPF levels. And believe me it is hard to stay unflustered looking when you have no idea what it is that you are looking at, or for. Let the lesson begin, students eyes forward!
There is one main difference between most sun protection products, sunscreen and sunblock, if you look close enough on most bottles near the SPF level it will state this difference.
What is the difference you are asking? Let me tell you…
Sunblock contains physical or inorganic ingredients that sit on top of the skin and help to actually block the UVB light by reflecting and scattering the rays. Sunblock is ecentailly a wall between your skin and the sun’s rays. For the best kind of protection look for Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide as the main ingredients, as these tend to be less irritating to sensitive skin.

Sunscreen contains chemical compounds that help to protect your skin by being absorbed into the skin. That is is why you have to apply then 10-2- minutes before exposure to ensure enough time as elapsed for the product to become effective. Sunscreens actually allow a certain range of UV light to be absorbed into the skin.

Now to discuss the difference between UVA and UVB rays. There is always a lot of talk, but what are and what do they do? Well, UVB are generally refered to as the “tanning ray” as it affects the outer layer of the skin the epidermis and is the usual suspect that causes the sunburns. UVA rays are the major contributor to skin damage and cause acceleration of the aging process. They can penetrate deeper into the skin through the epidermis and disperses in the dermis (the true skin).
All that being said….you need a sunscreen that has both UVA and UVB protection, one is not good without the other. They are like a pair, ya know like um….a killer pedicure to go with those sandals.
Another important consideration is the SPF level. SPF stands for sun protection factor, which is a rating system from 2-70 and refers to the length of time a sun protection location remains effective on the skin. That can be a little misleading as SPF numbers are based only on UVB blockage and not the ability to block UVA. Also, if you usually use a SPF of 15 (which I feel is too low…personal opinion) going up to a SPF of 30 will not double your protection time. The correlation to the SPF number and protection is nonlinear meaning it doesn’t double the blocking ability of the lotion, just increase it.
So if you want to be on the safe side….reapply every 2 hours, and more often if swimming, sweating or if the UV level is high that day. A little tidbit of information I tell my friends that I learned in school is “Every time you burn your face, it will age you 10 years down the line”. That little bit of information is hopefully scary enough for you to at least think about sun protection at the beach.
Sunscreens have a shelf life…*gasp*....I know they really do, as do all cosmetics. If you are still using a sunscreen that you purchased last summer…well lets just say that I hope it’s a good moisturizer, since that’s all you’re getting from it. The chemical blockers and compounds breakdown over time and become less effective, sometimes losing their effectiveness all together. The general rule which I go by, is to keep the sunscreen in a drawer after the summer season for use throughout the winter months (since you should be wearing it all year round) and when summer comes around for the next season toss it all out. For a general rule of thumb 6-12 months (12 would be pushing it). Also, any face cream or protection creams that have SPF in them, will have a shorter shelf life as the ingredients in the creams will breakdown the ones in the SPF so you may think that you are saving money, but in the end they last half as long.

Whatever brand you decide to buy, pick one that works best for you.

Hopefully this little lesson will help in protecting your skin….beacuse no one….and I mean ABSOLUTLY NO ONE want to look like this EVER

On that happy note (haha), enjoy the sun!
Caitlin xoxo


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