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Sunscreen 101: What Sunscreen is Best for You This Summer
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FAC would like to welcome Nurse Practitioner and Botox Expert, Tami Kennedy!
Tami has been a Nurse Practitioner for 18 years and has more than 5 years experience in wellness focusing on regenerative medicine including PRP, PRF, and stem cell therapy.
She earned her Bachelor Degree in Nursing from the University of Southern California and her Master’s Degree in Nursing, specializing in Women’s Health Care from California State University, Long Beach. She worked for 13 years in an OB-GYN private practice where she cared for female patients throughout the lifespan.
She continues to stay active in the nursing community as a member of both Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing and the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health.
Tami is married with 3 active daughters and personally enjoys healthy living and regular exercise.
By now the importance of sunscreen is engrained in our brains. We hear it all the time, “WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN SO YOU DON’T BURN!” Your esthetician is constantly telling you to wear sunscreen every day, regardless of cloud cover.
But are you wearing the best sunscreen option? What’s the difference between a chemical sunscreen and a chemical-free, physical sunblock? Does SPF matter? And how much do I need? What’s the difference between UVA and UVB rays?
Let us break it all down.
Understanding UVA vs. UVB Rays
There are two types of ultraviolet light we encounter the most: UVA, often called the "aging ray" and UVB, called the "burn ray.”
UVB rays are more superficial and cause sunburns while damaging skin cells.
Both rays harm your skin, just in different ways. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and cause skin damage and pre-mature aging.
UVA rays pass through overcast clouds and can cause damage when it's raining outside. As mentioned, these rays go deep into our skin and damage the cells that our body is "making a copy of." If the original cell is damaged from any type of radiation, such as a UVA ray, your cell is going to regenerate from a damaged cell and accelerate aging.
To protect against both UVA and UVB rays, you’ll want to pick up a broad-spectrum sunscreen. Both chemical sunscreens and physical sunscreens can be broad spectrum.
Chemical sunscreens filter out specific rays and have the ability to absorb ultraviolet radiation, thus reducing the amount of radiation that penetrates the skin. Sometimes you may notice sunscreens with 5 different sunscreen ingredients and it’s because they’re each responsible for filtering out a specific type of ray. The chemicals that are most often found in sunscreens include PABA, Benzophenones, Cinnamates, Salicylates.
Physical sunscreens deflect both UVA and UVB instead of absorbing them. They contain a physical block which sits on the skins surface and does not have the ability to be absorbed into the skin. Physical block sunscreens are going to give you much better protection from UVA rays that lead to aging skin.
Light is either absorbed into the sun block or reflected away from the body. In the past, physical sun blocks could be spotted by the opaque white film, but new technology has created sun blocks with particles so tiny, that the opaque film in no longer noticeable.
We recommend people use chemical-free sunblock, a physical sunscreen, with at least one ingredient that is a chemical-free option such as zinc or titanium dioxide. These are the two most common ingredients in chemical-free, physical sunscreens and deflect both UVA and UVB rays.
Sunscreens are rated with SPF numbers. SPF refers to the "Sun Protection Factor" for UVB rays only.
Just because something has a high SPF rating doesn't mean it’s actually a good broad spectrum. If you have a physical, chemical-free sunscreen with an SPF 40 it's actually giving you better protection than a chemical sunscreen with SPF 50. The chemical-free SPF 40 filters out the harmful UVA rays that cause pre-mature aging while also protecting you from the “burning” UVB rays. The chemical sunscreen is only blocking out certain wavelengths depending on the ingredients.
A sunscreen with a SPF of 15 will delay sunburn from occurring for 15 times (in minutes) longer than normal if using no protection at all. SPF's are rated typically from 1 to 60, although there are some products with an even higher rating. While most suggest an SPF of 15 for everyday use, the activity, time of day, time of year, and the duration should all be considered.
Sunscreen should be applied daily and reapplied when we are in extended sun exposure. So, reapply sunblock at least every 90 minutes to 2 hours.
Look at sun protection not just for preventing sunburns but also preventing damage to the skin overall. Regardless of whether you’re burning, your skin is still absorbing the “skin aging” UVA rays. We want to limit the amount of radiation we absorb whether its 5 minutes of sun exposure or 90 minutes.
A lot of people think "oh I put my sunscreen on, I’m good. I shouldn’t get burned." But all it’s doing is filtering out the amount of rays, so you’re still getting some absorption. Depending on your natural protection and your skin tone, some people can go longer without getting burned than others.
FAC has several sunscreen options to choose from. Whether you need a tinted sunscreen to provide an extra glow all day or a sheer option that won’t leave a white cast on your face, we have exactly what you need to block out harmful rays this summer.
Come into any of our three offices to pick up your sunscreen, or call us with any questions!