Everything you need to know about SPF
Learn the truth about keeping your skin safe from sun damage.
Healthy, smooth, even-toned skin – and good health – are the trade-offs for too much time in the sun. Surprisingly, many people who think they are protecting themselves adequately are following outdated, inaccurate advice and jeopardize their long-term skin health! Are you among the misled? Dermalogica skin experts share some of the most common misconceptions they hear so you can find out.
Myth: All sunscreen protects against UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays.
“Many people think that applying any old SPF will help keep us safe from both kinds of the sun’s harmful rays,” says Sharon Maxwell, International Education Manager for Dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute. “Unfortunately, this is not true.”
SPF (Sun Protection Factor) theoretically indicates how long it will take for UVB rays – the main cause of sunburn – to burn the skin. For example, SPF 15 allows a person to stay in the sun 15 times longer without burning than they could without sunscreen. This has nothing to do with UVA rays, which are the same rays emitted by tanning booths. UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply, and play a major part in accelerating the signs of skin aging and generating skin cancer.
To protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays, don’t just buy a product with an SPF of 15 or higher. Make sure it is labeled “Broad Spectrum,” which means it contains a combination of ingredients known to protect skin against both types of UV rays.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a “liberal use” of SPF 30 (picture a shot glass full of lotion) for the body, and reapplying every two hours or after swimming or exercising. For the face, the rule of thumb is one teaspoon of sunscreen to deliver the SPF on the package.
Myth: A base tan will protect me from the sun.
There is no such thing as a safe tan. By definition, a suntan is your skin’s defense to being harmed by UV exposure. Your cells respond to the affront by producing more melanin (pigment), and your skin darkens as a result. There is nothing healthy or preventive to be gained from trying to acquire a base tan.
The same goes for the “but I need Vitamin D” argument. Experts agree that after 15 minutes in the sun, your skin stops producing the vitamin: if it didn’t, toxic levels would make your sick. Vitamin D can also be acquired through food and supplements, which negate the need to spend too much time in the sun.
Myth: It’s cloudy outside! I don’t need sunscreen.
Sun damage doesn’t just happen during the summer months or at the beach. Photo damage or UV exposure (which causes aging) can occur from exposure to daylight through glass and even fluorescent indoor lighting. This is why protecting the skin every day is imperative. Roughly 90 percent of photo aging is preventable by wearing a Broad Spectrum sunscreen daily, so slather up!
Dermalogica.com livingskin vol. 1