Everyone says to avoid the sun if you want to avoid the damage it can cause to your skin.
To completely avoid the sun and sun damage, we’d stay inside during the peak daylight hours. If we did manage to venture outside, we'd cover ourselves with long sleeves, pants, and broad-brimmed hats.
But that wouldn’t be much fun. Nor would it be very comfortable.
They also say that sunlight is good for us. We need it to make vitamin D and it’s great for our mental health, circadian rhythms, and more.
So which one is it? Do we avoid the sun, or do we go out in the sun?
We ask ourselves this question for our health, but also for our enjoyment. Being outdoors is fun! And isn't having fun good for you, too?
The answer is that you need sun and that you also need protection from it. The sun you should avoid is the sun that you're exposing yourself to without the protection that sunscreen provides.
So we need sunscreen. We all know that. But it’s a confusing world. Let’s try to demystify it a bit, shall we?
SPF is the measure of the protection against sunburn (UVB only) that a sunscreen has.
Remember, UVB rays are the ones that penetrate the outer layer of skin (epidermis) and UVA are the ones that go deeper (dermis).
UVB damage is associated with sunburn and DNA damage that can lead to hyperpigmentation and cancer.
UVA damage leads to premature aging and, in some cases, cancer.
Obviously, you need a sunscreen that protects against both kinds of damage. This is called broad-spectrum sunscreen. Look for the words "broad spectrum" on the label.
The confusing world of SPF
SPF only tells you how much of the sun’s UVB rays the sunscreen in question blocks. There is no corresponding measure of how much UVA is blocked.
Most experts agree that SPF of 30 or higher does offer UVA protection, but this isn't on the label!
What’s confusing are the numbers. Most logical people would conclude that SPF 15 is twice as protective as SPF 30 and that SPF 100 is much better than SPF 50.
Here are the facts about your sunscreen:
- SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of UVB rays
- SPF 30 blocks 97 percent of UVB rays
- SPF 50 blocks 98 percent of UVB rays
- SPF 100 blocks 99 percent of UVB rays
And just to clear up another point we’ve heard more than once, SPF are not additive. If you put on SPF 30 and then layer SPF 50 over it, you don’t get SPF 80. You only have as much protection as the highest SPF you slather on. In this case, SPF 50.
To get the full benefit of the SPF, you need to put on a good layer and reapply at least every two hours of you are active and a bit more if you’re in the water (generally 80 minutes, but check the label).
Chemical Sunscreen versus Mineral Sunscreen
Another big issue in the world of sunscreens is the argument over chemical sunscreens versus mineral sunscreens. What are they? Which one is better?
Chemical sunscreens (oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, avobenzene, octisalate) work by absorbing UV rays, converting them to heat and releasing them into the body. They go on clear and are absorbed into the skin.
Recent studies show the most widely used chemical sunscreens are not only absorbed into the skin -- they are absorbed into the bloodstream.
What this means remains to be determined, but at SunWindSnow we like to play it safe with what goes into our blood and use only mineral sunscreen.
Mineral sunscreens (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide) sit on top of the skin and reflect the sun’s rays. These sunscreens tend to be more moisturizing and may feel heavier on the skin. Regular mineral sunscreens may also leave a white cast that can be overcome by tinting or certain formulation techniques.
SunWindSnow’s mineral sun products are moisturizing, non-nano and carefully formulated to go on clear. It is the best sunscreen we have found to protect your skin while avoiding the white tints that many mineral sunscreens can leave.
SunWindSnow’s products nourish, protect, and restore your skin so you look and feel your best while doing the things that you love.