Summer Skin Care – What You Should Know About Sunscreen

The summer season is in full swing, and if you’re like us you’re trying to squeeze in all the barbeques, ball games, and beach time you possibly can during this beautiful time of year.  In between soaking up all the joys of summer, please take a quick moment to review our sunscreen recommendations so you can look and feel your best.

We all know we should avoid sunburn, but it’s easy to head out to the garden or leave for an outdoor event and figure we won’t get “too” burned.  But did you know that in addition to redness and pain, repeated sunburns are the main risk factors for skin cancers (and wrinkles!)?  Sunlight includes visible light (the colors we see) and other frequencies that we can’t see, like ultraviolet light (UV).  And while we can’t see UV light, we do see its short term and long term effects on our skin. Fortunately, prevention goes a long way, and we can reduce these risks by using a good sunscreen every day.  Consider sunscreen application like you do brushing and flossing – a quick, daily ritual that pays dividends.

There are two classes of sunscreens – physical blockers and chemical blockers. Physical blockers reflect UV light. Chemical blockers absorb UV light. Physical blocker sunscreens are generally more effective and act more quickly (as soon as they are applied) than chemical blockers (which must be absorbed into the skin for about 15-30 minutes). In addition, Hawaii recently banned over-the-counter chemical sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate because they may damage live coral.  Regardless of which class of sunscreen you choose, you should look at the label for these key words: “Broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB” and “SPF 15 or more”.

An SPF value indicates the amount of UVB protection the sunscreen provides compared to using no sunscreen. The sun is “stronger” in the middle of the day than in the morning or evening and is more intense at lower latitudes, so it’s important to know that an SPF value refers to the amount of solar exposure not time in the sun. A higher number SPF doesn’t mean you can spend more time outdoors without reapplying.

Sunscreen is regulated by the FDA like a medication, and if a sunscreen is not “Broad Spectrum SPF 15 or more”, it must carry a FDA warning of “Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. This product has been shown only to prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.”  The FDA also requires an expiration date on the label. You can dive further into these specifics on the FDA’s website.

At Savola Aesthetic Dermatology Center we follow the American Academy of Dermatology’s recommendations to use a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least an SPF 30 for the most reliable protection.  And remember to reapply every 2 hours, or more often if you’re getting wet.  Sunscreens are water-resistant, not waterproof. Our favorite sunscreen brands have high quality physical blockers such as EltaMD or Aveeno.  We love these two because they use titanium dioxide for a strong physical barrier but still feel smooth and light. And some even provide tanning tint!

Our team is happy to answer any questions you have about sunscreen or our other skin care and preventative care recommendations. Call us today for a consultation! Dermatology 540-451-2833 | Spa 540-451-2836