5 ANSWERS TO THE SPF QUESTIONS EVERYONE ASKS
1.) What exactly is SPF? SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is a measure of how well a sunscreen will protect skin from UVB rays, the kind of radiation that causes sunburn, damages skin, and can contribute to skin cancer. The higher the SPF, the longer it is supposed to protect your skin. If you normally burn after 15 minutes, an SPF 15 would mean you burn 15 times later or almost 4 hours later. Thank goodness or we would never really have fun in the sun!
2.) What number SPF should I buy?
Higher numbers on labels are more about marketing than effectiveness. Right now the FDA is proposing to ban sunscreens that are labeled with an SPF number higher than 50, since there is no real scientific evidence showing that they offer any more protection than lower numbers. I recommend a minimum of SPF 15 but prefer SPF 30 for daily use. I don’t think anyone needs an SPF higher than 50, it’s less than 1% more effective than an SPF 30. Don’t buy into the hype of higher SPF’s.
3.) Does Natural Sunscreen work? Natural sunscreen is called mineral or physical sunscreen and has ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide in them. These compounds sit on top of the skin's surface to create a physical barrier between the sun and your skin to reflect the suns rays. Natural sunscreens tend to be more effective at blocking UV rays in general (that's why you always see lifeguards with white zinc on their noses). One of my favorites is Farmacy Green Screen SPF 30 and to answer the question again, yes, they work!
4.) Should I buy a chemical or physical sunscreen?
This is always the big question clients ask once they learn the difference. There are many pros and cons to both types, so I am going to make it easy: you need a sunscreen that has BOTH! The zinc oxide (physical) creates a lightweight finish with natural antimicrobial agents for acne-prone skin types, whereas the octinoxate and octisalate (chemical) that are used to make sunscreen spreadable and easy to apply is ideal for daily use under makeup. I believe it’s best to use both physical and chemical sunscreens on your skin because you’ll get both inside and outer protection. My absolute favorite combination sunscreen right now is the iS Clinical Extreme Protect SPF 30. I find that it doesn’t leave a white-ish cast on my skin and I have many clients that use this product faithfully in their skincare routines every day.
5.) Does sunscreen prevent me from getting my Vitamin D? It takes about 10 minutes a day outside to get your recommended daily dose of Vitamin D. You should never skip your sunscreen to get your Vitamin D! Living in Southern California we have sunshine almost every day but in other states that is not always the case. The next best way to get your Vitamin D is through diet and supplements. I always prefer real fresh food over supplements and the best choices for Vit. D are fatty fish (I love salmon) and egg yolks which are also good for skin and hair because of the high content of Biotin. If you want to add a supplement to your diet, I like Nutrigold Vit. D 3 1000 or 2000 IU but there are many other great ones on the market. As long as it meets your 600 IU recommended daily dose you’ll be doing both your body and skin some good!
With summer just around the corner, I hope this helps you make the best choice in sunscreens for you and your family for daily use and summer get-a-ways. Always protect yourself in the sun. SPF is the absolute best product, or as I call it, the real fountain of youth!