It is winter and even though you might not be feeling the penetrating rays of the sun it does not mean it is not doing any damage.
Recently Mind, Body, Green published an article by DR Sarah Villafranco “Sunscreen ratings: What you need to know about SPF, UVA, UVB and more” . I really wanted to share with you some key points I found fascinating and worth knowing !!
What does SPF even mean ??
Most of us think of SPF as “sun protection factor,” the degree to which a product protects our skin from the sun. But the FDA refers to SPF as “sunburn protection factor”—a more accurate term. When the SPF rating system was developed in the 1960s, it was a measure of how long a product could delay reddening of the skin due to sun exposure. If normal skin would start to redden after 10 minutes in the sun, a product that could extend that time to 150 minutes would have an SPF of 15. The FDA summarizes it as follows:
All sunscreens must be tested according to an SPF test procedure… Higher SPF values (up to 50) provide greater sunburn protection. Because SPF values are determined from a test that measures protection against sunburn caused by ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, SPF values only indicate a sunscreen’s UVB protection.
Additionally, a sunscreen can be tested after 40 or 80 minutes underwater to make a water-resistance claim. And in order to make a “broad spectrum” claim, a sunscreen also has to undergo a pass/fail test for protection from UVA rays.
How high of an SPF should I use ?
This is one of the most confusing aspects of the SPF system. Most people believe that an SPF 30 product offers twice the sun protection of an SPF 15 product, and that would make a lot of sense. In reality, though, an SPF of 15 blocks 93 percent of the UVB rays, whereas an SPF 30 blocks 97 percent, making the SPF 30 product only 4 percent more effective at blocking UVB rays. Bump your SPF to 50, and you’re only getting 1 percent more protection by blocking 98 percent of UVB radiation. In short, choose an SPF of at least 15, and don’t fall for the SPF 100 trick—you never need more than a 50.
How you use a product, along with its UVA coverage and active ingredients, is far more important than its SPF number.
Which active ingredients should I choose, and which should I avoid ?
Steer clear of :
Try to avoid the sunscreen ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate.
They are significant skin allergens and have been shown to have some estrogen-mimicking effects on the body.
Also watch for a “non-active” ingredient called methylisothiazolinone—a common preservative in sunscreens and baby wipes that was named “allergen of the year” by the American Contact Dermatitis Society in 2013.
Instead, go with:
Zinc oxide is the superstar of the sun protection world. It protects against UVA and UVB rays and does not get absorbed by the skin. Instead, it sits on top and deflects the sun’s rays like a mirror would.
Titanium dioxide is another barrier sunscreen but is mainly active against UVB rays. Avobenzone is one of few ingredients approved in the United States for UVA protection and has a low toxicity profile. Mexoryl is another UVA screen with a similar profile, currently awaiting FDA approval.
Here are a few of my personal favorite sun protection products that have some of these goodies: