The sunscreen you think is protecting your skin may very well not be at all. According to a study published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the sunscreen you’re using, regardless of SPF, may not be protecting your skin as well as you think. Keep on reading to find out more.
How To Choose The Best Sunscreen
According to an article published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), most people are using their sunscreen incorrectly and are, therefore, not reaping any of its benefits. In the report published, a high SPF component in sunscreen doesn’t necessarily equate to better coverage from the sun’s rays. In order to reap the maximum benefits of your sunscreen, the recommended amount to use is an entire shot glass full!
But, do not despair! We go over the science behind SPF, the truth behind SPF coverage and which formulations to look for when buying your sunscreen. We even include a handy dandy infographic to help you in the quest for that perfect sunscreen. Protecting your face and body from the sun’s rays is one of the most important things you can do for yourself, ladies, so don’t stop reading!
The Science Behind SPF – So, What Does That Number Mean Again?
Let’s go back to basics in order to understand why our current SPF may not be working and what we can do to make sure it’s protecting us from the sun. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is used to measure a product’s ability to protect from UVB rays. It should be noted that SPF only applies to UVB rays; for UVA-protection, look for products that say “broad spectrum.” But look at us, we’re already getting way ahead of ourselves!
So, now that we know what SPF stands for, what’s with the number? Well, the number is an estimate that measures how long you can stay in the sun before your skin begins to burn. The formula for measuring SPF is the amount of time you can be in the sun before burning X the SPF content. So, for example, say it takes 30 minutes before your skin begins to turn red and you’re using an SPF 15 sunscreen; you would multiple the minutes (30) by the SPF (15) and get 450, which means with an SPF of 15 you can spend 450 minutes in the sun before your skin starts to burn.
However, if you’re not applying the recommended amount, which is 1 ounce, then you’re not being protected at all.
The Truth Behind SPF Coverage
The majority of sunscreen users only use a fraction of the recommended amount. So, instead of getting SPF 15 coverage, you’re most likely getting SPF 2 coverage. Check out the chart below to see what the SPF content of your sunscreen really is.
It’s been determined that, if used correctly, an SPF 15 sunscreen is really all you need to protect your face. Products with higher SPF content can be beneficial, but are really just marketing ploys.
How To Choose The Right SPF
When it comes to choosing SPF, it’s important to note that the most effective way to use sunscreen is to apply it often and liberally. Re-application is key when it comes to protecting your skin from UVB rays, so don’t forget to re-apply every 3 hours or so, depending on your time spent in the sun.
While we’ll go over ingredients to avoid and look for when choosing sunscreen, below is a neat infographic by the American Academy of Dermatology that will make choosing the right sunscreen even easier!
Ingredients to Avoid
Whenever you see these ingredients, drop the bottle and back away from that aisle!
Retinyl palmitate is a form of Vitamin A whose purpose it is to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, like retinol! (Sound similar?) While the effects of retinyl palmitate have not been tested on humans, they were tested on mice in 2009 and it was discovered that mine who received retinyl palmitate developed tumors. The next step in the series of studies to discover whether retinal palmitate is toxic or not is to test products containg the ingredient instead of applying the ingredient directly on the mice.
It has been proven that oxybenzone, a compound naturally found in flower pigments with the ability to provide both UVA and UVB protection, is a hormone disruptor. That EWG recommends that consumers avoid buying sunscreens with the ingredient as it has the potential to be harmful. It has, thus far, not been concluded that oxybenzone poses negative health risks, however, certain studies show that this may be more the case than not.
Nano particles are what make it possible for modern day sunscreen formulations to appear transparent and/or translucent. We all remember that thick white strip of sunscreen on our noses as we tried to fashionably lounge around by the pool, right? The memory still haunts us! The issue with nanoparticles is their absorption rate by the human body. It is unclear of the particles how much we can inhale, especially given sunscreens that are aerosol-based. The EWG’s advice is to stick with sprays instead of dry powders and to avoid spraying sunscreen within at least a half a foot of your facial area.
These are the top 3 ingredients the EWG recommends you avoid when shopping for a sunscreen.
Keep it safe out there, ladies! Protecting your skin from the sun’s rays is not only beneficial to the look and appearance of your face, but can only protect you from skin cancer and other related diseases. Follow these guidelines for choosing effective sunscreen and stay protected!
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