All skincare experts recommend using sunscreen. Taking care of our skin involves protecting it from the abrasive rays of the sun. However, there is a lot we don't know about it.
We can find many brands in the supermarket, but which product should we buy and why? We usually have many questions about their use and benefits, such as: Should I only use sunscreen when I go to the beach? Can sunscreen improve my skin to make it look more beautiful?
If you've been thinking about it, don't worry! We have the answers to all your questions here. Keep reading to find them!
What are sunscreens?
Sunscreens were created for one purpose: to protect the skin. These products play a vital role in skin health as they block ultraviolet (UV) radiation, preventing our bodies from absorbing them. Ultraviolet radiation can damage the skin by causing severe sunburns.
Also, in the worst cases, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation can cause skin cancer. It is necessary to understand that no sunscreen blocks UV radiation at 100%. But they all allow people to be outdoors longer before their skin starts to turn red.
In this sense, using sunscreen does not mean that you can stay in the sun for an unlimited time since, even though you are using the product, the ultraviolet rays can still damage skin cells.
What does the sun protection factor (SPF) mean?
Another term related to sunscreens is the sun protection factor, also known as SPF. When it appears on the label of sunscreen's bottle, it is a measure that indicates the level of protection against ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.
UVB rays are the primary cause of sunburn but, like ultraviolet A (UVA) rays, they can also contribute to the development of skin cancer. As mentioned, the SPF on a label talks about how well the product protects the skin from UVB rays but does not say anything about the ability of a sunscreen to block UVA rays.
Higher SPF numbers mean that the product offers better protection against UVB rays. However, as explained, no sunscreen can block all UVB rays. Let's try to understand it better.
For example, a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 blocks approximately 97% of
UVB rays and a sunscreen with an SPD of 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. There is a slight difference, but it's significant. We will explain the reason behind it.
How to select the right sunscreen for you.
Since sunscreens protect against sunburn and minimize tanning by absorbing or reflecting UV rays, selecting a quality one is essential. Experts recommend choosing a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection, meaning that it protects against UVA and UVB rays.
The best sunscreens are those labeled with an SPF of 30 or higher and those that are water-resistant and waterproof. The latter protects people even if they swim or sweat for a certain period of time, and it could be for 40 or 80 minutes in contact with water.
The best type of sunscreen is the one that offers all the benefits we already mentioned. You can choose the brand of your preference as long as the product meets the protection parameters.
Sunscreens come in many different forms, including lotions, creams, gels, wax bars, ointments, and sprays. And you can buy your favorite as long as you keep in mind that they can all have different ingredients. Remember to avoid all products that have components that can irritate your skin.
Different types of SPF.
There are several types of SPF, and history explains why. Product and drug regulators did not introduce SPF measures until the mid-1970s.
It has been a few decades since the first rules on the manufacture and sale of sunscreen were implemented. However, companies are a bit slow to adapt to new regulations, and there are new rules every year. As a result, there are many sunscreens created every time a new ordinance is announced.
Recently, the FDA requested that all sunscreens with SPF below 15 and those that are not broad spectrum include a warning of cancer or skin aging.
SPF 30 and 50: How are they different?
As mentioned, the term SPF refers to the level of protection that sunscreen offers. In this sense, we can say that SFP is the most common level for most people and skin types. No product can completely block skin types, but they all work 90% and up.
Sunscreens with SPF 15 block 93% of UVB rays. They are better for darker skinned people, as they have more melanin in their skin, which gives them some protection.
However, experts recommend that everyone use sunscreens with an SPF of 30 or higher as, while darker skin does not tend to burn as quickly in the sun as fair skin, it still runs the risk of skin damage.
SPF 30, which is the most recommended by specialists and regulators, blocks 97% of UVB rays, and SPF 50 blocks 80% of UVB rays. The difference between SPF 30 and SPF 50 is approximately 1%.
Everyone believes that it is very little, but any additional protection can be beneficial for people, especially for those who tend to be exposed to the sun for a long time and for those who apply less sunscreen than indicated. The higher the number, the better, as it offers higher protection.
However, there is a false sense of security with high numbers that we must avoid. Using a sunscreen of SPF 50 will not make us insensitive to the sun. That's not the case! SPF is at its most active stage within two hours after applying the product, so it should be reapplied frequently. Also, even when used, there is 2% UVB rays reaching our skin.
To protect our skin from the sun's rays and take care of our health, we must include sunscreen in our daily routine and not only when we go to the beach or walk in the park during the summer.
Use this information to find the right one for you!