What is SPF, and what are the benefits of SPF?
Sun Protection Factor or SPF is a measure of how well you can be protected against sunburn. Since being brought to the market in 1936, sunscreen has made great technological advances and now nearly a century later there are cosmetically acceptable and elegant options on the market for all skin tones. Below are the following benefits that SPF provides:
- Protects and shields from the harmful UVA and UVB rays of the sun.
- Reduces the risks of skin cancer.
- Reduces risk of precancers.
- Helps prevent premature skin aging.
- Helps prevent hyperpigmentation/sun damage and protect against sunburn if applied as directed.
Are there different types of SPF? Yes!
Physical sunscreen – Sunscreen that consists of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These ingredients create a barrier that reflects and scatters UV rays away from the skin. Sometimes these ingredients leave a white cast since the particles are too large to be broken down (unless a nanotechnology formulation is used).
Chemical sunscreen – Sunscreen that does not contain physical blockers like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. They are usually composed of chemical filters like oxybenzone or avobenzone. These active ingredients absorb into the skin and cause a chemical reaction with the sun’s UVA and UVB rays and convert it to heat that is dissipated and not harmful to the skin.
True or False: People with melanin don’t need to use SPF every day?
FALSE. Although people with darker skin tones have higher levels of melanin that helps protect the skin, this population is not exempt from wearing sunscreen – the natural melanin in the skin is not enough and they still are susceptible to sun damage. Everyone needs to wear sunscreen. While you may not see traditional redness of a burn in persons with darker skin tones, other signs or symptoms may be present – sensitivity to touch, pain or itchy skin can be common after a burn. Sunscreens will aid in protection from sunburn and sun damage.
The most SPF that the skin has is about SPF 12 and the American Academy of Dermatology recommends we wear a minimum of SPF 30. I actually recommend my patients wear SPF 30-50. There is no data to support a greater advantage to wearing a higher SPF. The true benefit of sunscreen’s efficacy will come from consistency in its use and reapplication of the product.
When should SPF be applied in a skincare regimen?
Sunscreen should be the last product to be applied in your skincare regimen, followed by makeup if desired.
Should SPF be applied before or after serums?
SPF should be applied after serums. It is the last step prior to applying makeup.