If you think you can skip sunscreen just this once, think again. TruSkin answers your questions about SPF and why you need to wear sunscreen every day.
By Tolu Ogunsola, Sponsored Content by TruSkin
What is SPF?
SPF stands for sun protection factor. Its goal is to do exactly what is says it will do: protect you from the sun. Its original goal was to protect from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet-b waves, or UVB. UVB are what actually cause sunburns. It at first was thought to be the only sun-related factor that could cause skin cancer. SPF grades are based on their ability to protect our skin from UVB rays. In contrast, ultraviolet-a waves, UVA, were thought to mostly contribute to aging and wrinkling.However, over the past few decades it has been found that UVA rays play a major factor in the cause of skin cancer as well, which is where the idea of broad-spectrum sunscreen comes into play. Broad-spectrum sunscreen protects us from both UVB and UVA sun rays. Therefore, this would be the type of sunscreen I would recommend.
How does SPF work?
SPF grades indicate how long it will take for the skin to become reddened or slightly burned while using the product. If someone was to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15, it would take 15 times longer for their skin to begin burning than someone with no protection.Sunlight exposure and UV radiation damage the skin’s cellular makeup, or DNA, which can cause those cells to mutate, or change, and this leads to skin cancer.SPF works by repelling or absorbing these UV rays. A chemical sunscreen will create a protective layer on the skin that absorbs the damaging sun rays and changes them into heat that your body then releases. In contrast, a physical sunscreen contains zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide and they sit on top of the skin, reflecting the damaging rays from the skin. This is why physical sunscreens tend to be thicker.There are factors in both types of sunscreen that do a better job at protecting from either UVA or UVB rays. This is why ideally it is best to use a sunscreen that has both chemical and physical protection.
SPF 15 protects the skin from about 93 percent of UVB rays, whereas an SPF of 50 protects you from about 98 percent of UVB rays. This is one of the reasons it is said getting an SPF of 100 is not going to provide you with that much more protection from the sun. Most people run into problems with burning not because of the SPF they chose, but more so due to the amount of sunscreen they applied to their skin and the mistake of forgetting to reapply every 2 hours.If you do not follow those two rules, then it does not matter whether you choose SPF 15 or SPF 100; you can still get a sunburn.
Tru-Skin Dermatology was founded on the principles of healthy skin. Our mission is the prevention, detection and treatment of skin cancer. Learn more on our website.