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Sunscreen 101: Everyone’s Invited

Sunscreen 101: Everyone’s Invited

You’ve heard the term “diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” but we beg to differ. SUNSCREEN is a girl’s everyone’s best friend (although there is something to be said for a beautiful diamond, that’s another story). Sunscreen is the super step in your skincare routine—no matter what your skin tone may be—that will give you healthy, glowy, and ageless skin that lasts a lifetime. 

Via Pinterest

Here’s what need to know about SPF, and why it is SO important to be a part of your skincare regimen:

Why wear sunscreen? 

Sunscreen is our best defense against the harmful ultraviolet or UV rays from the sun. These UV rays, consisting of UVB and UVA light each play a special role in permanently damaging our skin. 

UVB rays are the culprit of all your best tans and worst sunburns—think ‘B’ for burning. They attack the epidermis, leaving significant visual damage on the skin via sunburns. What’s worse is that these rays are significant in the development of skin cancer. 

UVA rays may also be blamed for skin cancer, but are more commonly linked to premature aging, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, and fine lines—think ‘A’ for aging. They penetrate the epidermis and cause damage to the dermal layer of your skin. 

All UV light exposure is damaging, especially over the course of one’s lifetime. While these rays have the potential to cause serious health issues related to immunosuppression and cancer, SPF with broad-spectrum coverage can combat all UV rays and prevent adverse effects. 

Who has to wear sunscreen? 

Everyone! Yes, even if you claim to “never burn,” you still need to protect your skin. While it is true that individuals with darker complexions do have some natural defense against harmful sun rays, it simply is not enough. Dr. Sheel Desai Solomon, a dermatologist in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, said “An African American person has melanin (a natural skin protectant) that blocks UV light up to SPF 13,” in a HuffPost article. “This isn’t as strong as the sunscreen which is created for skin protection. Yes, sunscreen is needed.” While cases of skin cancer are not commonly linked to UV overexposure for those with dark complexions, sunscreen offers many other benefits, specifically related to anti-aging. Wearing sunscreen is the secret to unlocking the youth fountain and keeping your skin healthy, and glowy.

Note: Infants under 6-months should not be wearing sunscreen, and should avoid exposure to the sun. 

I only need sunscreen when laying in the sun, right? 

All-day. Every day. Consistency is key when it comes to sunscreen application. Even on gloomy, rainy days, up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays reach earth. This means that every single day your skin is being damaged. A harsh reality that will catch up to you as you age. Even when you’re relaxing inside, harmful rays penetrate through glass windows and continue to damage your skin. The Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation suggests wearing SPF 30 daily, and at least SPF 50 on days spent in the sun. In an interview with  Allure Magazine, Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, says that whether you’re in the sun or working inside, “Ideally, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or more frequently if you are swimming or sweating heavily.” 

PRO TIP: Layer your sunscreen under makeup enriched with SPF. We love Shiseido’s Oil-Free UV Protector Broad Spectrum Face Sunscreen SPF 42 ($40). Pair it with IT Cosmetics’ CC+ Cream with SPF 50 ($52) and finish with SuperGloop’s! Acai Fusion Lip Balm SPF 30 ($10). Touch up with Colorescience’s: Sunforgettable Mineral Sunscreen Brush SPF 30 ($75) every 2-hours throughout the day.

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What type of sunscreen should I wear? 

There are two main categories of sunscreen—chemical and physical—but as long as you’re wearing a broad spectrum SPF 30 you are on the right track. What YOU can best work into your daily routine, and how your skin reacts to different formulations is always important to consider when choosing a sunscreen. 

“The most important thing you can do for your skin is to protect it every day, there’s no point in using any other skincare treatments without it.”

April Franzino, beauty director for magazine brands Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day and Prevention

Chemical sunscreens are most common and work by absorbing deep into your skin to absolve UV rays as they come into contact with your skin. With active ingredients avobenzone, octinoxate, and oxybenzone, chemical sunscreens are best suited for days spent in the water or heavy sweat days. The chemicals found in these sunscreens may be more irritating to the skin and have been critiqued for the potential of causing long-term free radical damage. They are often praised, however, for blending seamlessly into the skin and leaving no ghostly residue. Our favorite is La Roche Posay’s Anthelios XL Ultra-Light Fluid SPF 50+ ($34) for sensitive skin and Black Girl Sunscreen  ($19) for darker complexions. 

Physical or mineral sunscreens are much thicker in comparison to their chemical counterpart. Think retro lifeguard with too much white sunblock on the nose—that is a physical sunscreen. Ingredients include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, meaning that physical sunscreens reflect UV rays, bouncing them off of your skin. Praised for a more gentle formulation, physical sunscreens are moisturizing and are great for everyday use. The one downside—they often leave a white cast on the face. This is especially challenging and frustrating for those with darker complexions. Brands are working to counteract this effect and ensure a flawless application every time. Check out Drunk Elephant’s Umbra Sheer Physical Defense ($45) or Farmacy’s Green Screen Daily Environmental Protector ($36) that made Oprah’s 12 Best Sunscreens for Dark Skin Tones. 

While many of us have a love-hate relationship with our skin, we must look past our indiscretions and focus on protecting it. SPF is a great first step, but you should also stay in the shade when possible and wear appropriate protection like trendy wide-brimmed hats, and fun (UV resistant) sunglasses. There is no ~magic~ moisturizer or overpriced cream that can offer you the long-term health, and anti-aging benefits of a great SPF. And let’s be real, one preventative step to flawless skin seems much more enticing than being forced to rely on expensive, corrective measures that only lessen the effects of a lifetime of UVB and UVA damage on the skin.

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