Thursday, August 30, 2012

All You Need To Know About Sunblock / Sunscreen

Many of us think that the sun is a beautiful thing. They're not wrong. Its bright, natural light makes us feel warm and everything. And nothing beats a beautiful sunset. But I'm not going to talk about the benefits of the sun here. I'm going to tell you what it can do to your skin, and not in a good way.

What does the sun spreads?

The sun basically have 3 types of UV (Ultra Violet) rays: UV A, UV B, and UV C.

The UV C is probably the most unheard of, because it didn't even make it through the ozone layer of our planet, so we can forget about that.

The UV A is responsible for aging and wrinkles on your skin. It penetrates deeper into your skin compared to the other rays, making it takes longer to be noticeable. Aging and wrinkles wouldn't appear overnight, right? This one also causes long term skin damage, and worst of all, skin cancer. I would say UV A is the most dangerous.

The UV B is responsible for redness and burns on the skin. It penetrates usually only on the outer layer of the skin. Causing the quickly noticeable redness and darker skin after you're going outside for a while.

I try to remember the difference between the UV A and UV B by referring the A = Aging, and B = Burns.

What's the difference between sunblock and sunscreen?

Yes, they are different. But they both works to prevent the UV lights from entering your skin.
Sunblock works by reflecting the UV lights, exactly like a mirror.  
Sunscreen works by absorbing the UV lights so it cannot enter your skin.

If you have a more sensitive skin, I would suggest to use sunblock rather than the sunscreen, because the ingredients are more suitable for sensitive skin.

Another reason why sunblock is preferable, is that it works faster than sunscreen. If you're using sunscreen, you have to wear it about 15-30 minutes before you go out. But sunblock works immediately after you put it on.

What is SPF and what does the numbers means?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. I'm sure the name explain itself, so what I'm going to explain is the numbers that are often written (SPF 15, SPF 30, etc.)

Let's say I'm using a sunblock with SPF 15. This means that I can stay out in the sun 15 times longer than I can without using sunblock before I start to burn or turning red. So if I usually burn after 10 minutes in the sun, with the SPF 15 I can stay for 10x15=150 minutes before I get darker.

Keep in mind that these numbers does not multiply. If you're using SPF 30, it doesn't mean that you get twice protection of SPF 15. So it's always better to use the medium range, depending on your exposure to the sun. The suggested amount is between 15-30 of SPF protection for daily use. 

Now to the part where it gets messed up.
We all heard about SPF, but what we may not know is that SPF only works for UV B. So it does nothing to prevent aging and the long term skin damage. When I first found out about this I was like "Are you frickin' kidding me???!!"

But there is always something we can do. Read the ingredients written on the packaging, and look for: Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Oxybenzone (benzophenone, benzophenone-3), or Ecamsule (Mexoryl SX). If you find at least one of those, you're good to go. Those are the best ingredients to protect your skin from UV A light.

Another thing that could come in handy, is to know the term Broad Spectrum. If you find this written on the packaging, you are safe. Broad Spectrum means that the product contains both UV A and UV B filters. No need to look for those confusing ingredients.

What can you learn from this post?

- Do not underestimate the sun. Ever.
- Use sunblock / sunscreen that contains both UV A and UV B filters. 
- Use it every single day before you go out in the sun.

Hope it helps!