Staying Pale: SPF Simplified

There’s much more to protecting your skin than just avoiding a sunburn. It’s not just the burns that can lead to skin damage and skin cancers. It’s the cumulative effects of the sun’s rays that can wreak havoc on the future you for a long time to come.

Sunscreen isn’t just for your beach bag. Sunscreen should be a core part of your daily skin care arsenal. Applied daily, sunscreen can help to combat free radical damage brought on by UV rays. Damage that will lead to wrinkles, age spots, fine lines, a leathery feel, and other signs of premature aging.

While maintaining that gorgeous pale, porcelain countenance through the use of sunscreen helps you keep your attractive glow, you’re doing yourself much larger favors.

What’s the Problem With the Sun?

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So many people try to tell you that tanned skin shows a “healthy glow.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. Granted, there’s no reason to emulate a vampire, either, now that it’s October, but that’s not the point.

The cold, hard truth of the matter is that UV rays are the biggest contributing factor when it comes to signs of aging. Of course, skin cancers are also a result of the sun, as well. That’s because they do more than just cause superficial sunburns. UV radiation can damage the DNA in your skin cells, causing genetic mutations that can lead to skin cancer. They are also the leading cause of early signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles, and sunspots. The damage that you receive from the sun has a cumulative effect, meaning it builds up over time until it shows up physically as “old skin.”

By protecting your skin you’re not only helping to prevent skin cancers from growing, but you’re ensuring that you’re doing everything you can to prevent those premature wrinkles from forming.

What Are UV Rays?

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Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. It can come from man-made sources like tanning beds and welding torches, though the vast majority of it comes from the sun. There are three main types, though only two are able to make it through our atmosphere, so for simplicity’s sake, we’re only referring to UVA and UVB.

UVA rays are the weakest of the three UV rays. They can cause skin cells to age and can cause some indirect damage to cells’ DNA. They’re mainly linked to long term skin damage such as wrinkles, but are also thought to play a role in some skin cancers. Think UV-A for Aging.

UVB rays have a little bit more energy than UVA. They can directly damage the DNA in cells and are the biggest culprits when it comes to causing sunburns. They’re thought to cause most skin cancers. Think “B” for burning! Think UV-B for Burning.

You definitely want to do everything in your power to protect yourself from these bad boys!

Are All Sunscreens the Same?

They most certainly are not!

In seeking to avoid both the discomfort of a beach burn and to avoid aging your skin too quickly, you need to reach for a broad-spectrum sunscreen. It’s designed to weed out both UVA and UVB rays.

But “broad-spectrum” isn’t quite enough. You also need to pay attention to “SPF.”

What is SPF?

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Sun Protection Factor (SPF) refers to how well the sunscreen protects against radiation, specifically UVB. There is no factor that alludes to UVA protection. So, the SPF factor will mostly ensure that you stay burn-free, but not necessarily protected from the aging effects of the sun.

SPF lets you know how long you can stay in the sun. It allows you to figure out how long you can stay in the sun without burning with the sunscreen on in relation to how long you typically can stay in the sun without burning without the sunscreen on. Your usual count-down-to-burn time is multiplied by the factor.

So, if you typically start to burn after 10 minutes without sunscreen, and you apply sunscreen with SPF 15, it will keep you from burning for about 150 minutes, or two and a half hours, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

10 minutes x SPF 15 = 150 minutes

That only counts if it’s actually applied properly, which it rarely is. People often don’t apply enough of the cream to properly cover their skin, and they rarely reapply it when they should, which is about once every two hours. That should be more often if sweating or swimming are involved. As a result, it’s a good idea to apply SPF of at least 30.

While it sounds good to go higher and higher with your SPF, experts agree that anything above SPF 50 is not doing you any more good, so for ultimate protection, choose an SPF 50 for best results.

Sunscreen Tips to Keep in Mind

    • Many products are not water resistant, so they must be reapplied often. It should be reapplied every two hours, or immediately after swimming or sweating. . . .even if you’re using the “water-resistant” variety.
    • Most sunscreens are intended for normal, everyday sun exposure, not a full day in direct sun. If at the beach or while exercising in the sun, you should consider a stronger sunscreen than usual.
    • You’re subjected to the sun’s rays every day, all year, even when sitting inside near a window or in your car. Always apply sunscreen, whatever the season.
    • Proper coverage requires more product than you think. The proper amount of sunscreen for your body is about the size of a shot glass (one ounce). Your face requires one teaspoon, itself.
  • Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before heading out into the sun. It needs time to soak in. If you’ve already been out in the sun and your skin is starting to redden, the damage has already started.

MDSUN offers two gentle every day sunscreen choices that are gentle on skin formulated with Micronized Zinc Oxide and other sunscreen ingredients to provide the highest level of broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection. The antioxidant enriched formulas and moisturizing base with powerful hydrators are suitable for dry, combination, and sensitive skin types.