Hope you’re all doing well!
I think its safe to say that nearly all skin care experts agree that wearing sunscreen is one of the best things that you can do for the long term health and appearance of your skin.
Here are a few quick facts about sunscreen:
When choosing a sunscreen it is very important to choose one that is labelled as being broad spectrum because the ideal sunscreen must protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays.
UVB rays can be considered the more dangerous rays because these are the ones that can cause skin cancer. UVA rays are the rays that penetrate deep into the skin and can cause premature aging of the skin.
It is very important to wear sunscreen each and every day no matter how cloudy it is because as long as it is daylight the suns rays can affect your skin.
SPF literally stands for sun protection factor. Most experts recommend wearing an SPF of 30 or higher because an SPF of 30 blocks out about 95 percent of the cancer causing UVB rays and an SPF of 50 blocks out about 98 percent of the UVB rays and an SPF higher than 50 is usually not worth it because it won’t provide much more protection.
The More the Better:
One of the biggest mistakes that people make with sunscreen (other than not wearing it all) is that they do not put enough of it on. Most experts agree that you need to apply a filled shot glass amount of sunscreen to adequately protect your entire body and in my opinion you should apply a thick quarter sized amount to your face enough to cover your entire face including the eye area and even on (not in) your ears as well. And try to use an SPF lip balm for your lips as well.
Physical vs. Chemical:
A physical sunscreen contains either Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide or a combination of both these as its active ingredients. A physical sunscreen works kind of like a mask in the sense that once you put on a physical sunscreen it will immediately shield your face from the harmful rays.
A chemical sunscreen contains active ingredients such as Avobenzone, Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Homosalate, Octycrylene, etc. As its name implies a chemical sunscreen causes a chemical reaction on the skin in order to protect the skin from the harmful UVA/UVB rays.
The logical question is which type is better?
From a safety and effectiveness perspective the clear answer is physical sunscreens simply because Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are more natural and well-studied ingredients whereas chemical sunscreens contain chemicals that have not been studied as widely and so as of now we do not know their true effects and safety. This is something that the FDA is currently studying and hopefully the results of this additional research will be released sooner rather than later.
In terms of effectiveness, most experts in the U.S. recommend physical sunscreens over chemical ones because while both types of sunscreens provide adequate protection from the cancer causing UVB rays the physical sunscreens have an advantage when it comes to the skin aging UVA rays.
The problem with chemical sunscreens in the United States is that they most often contain Avobenzone which is currently the only FDA accepted UVA filter in chemical sunscreens. The other active ingredients in chemical sunscreens are usually only UVB filters. Avobenzone is a decent UVA filter but the problem with Avobenzone is that it degrades very quickly when you are exposed to sunlight which may make you more susceptible to UVA skin damage.
European and Asian chemical sunscreens contain chemical protectors that are stronger and more stable. And these filters definitely make these chemical sunscreens more competitive than the ones we have in the U.S. Hopefully the FDA will approve some of these filters for use in the U.S. as well.
When it comes to ease of use anyone who has used both options will likely agree that chemical sunscreens are simply much easier to apply and they are much more cosmetically elegant.
The problem with physical sunscreens is that they are often very thick and dry and very difficult to apply on the face especially for those of us with dark skin. I notice that everytime I use a physical sunscreen on my darker skin tone it completely messes up my skin tone (my skin usually looks purple) and alternatively for people with light colored skin physical sunscreen can make them look excessively pale.
Chemical sunscreens usually go on very clearly without any residue. However, some sport chemical sunscreens can be excessively greasy but overall chemical sunscreens do not alter the appearance of your skin tone. The one drawback of chemical sunscreens is that they can be very irritating to those with sensitive skin.
Ultimately, I think that the best answer to this question is that the best type of sunscreen is the one that you are more likely to wear each and every day. This is a sunscreen that you are willing to put on each and every day no matter how busy and tired you may be.
Finally, many people only associate sunscreen with summer time. However, UVA and UVB rays affect us at varying levels during each and every season and so as we approach the colder and darker months we must continue using sunscreen on all exposed skin each and every day, rain or shine.