Skin, Sun Protection, Dermatologist Recommendations, The Science Of Beauty, Podcast, Sunscreen, Spf, Mineral Sunscreen, Dermatologists, Sun Damage, Skin Care, Skin Cancer, Chemical Sunscreen, Onecolumn, Web

Skin, Sun Protection

Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Sunscreen

If you're going to use any one beauty product in your lifetime, let it be this one.

10/18/2020 4:00:00 PM

If you haven't started including sunscreen in your daily routine, now's the chance to do that.

If you're going to use any one beauty product in your lifetime, let it be this one.

, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. They form a physical barrier between UV rays and the skin. While many people may be under the impression that mineral sunscreens are "natural," they are not. "Both chemical and mineral sunscreens are made in a lab," confirms Robinson.

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Chemical sunscreens typically have a thinner consistency and tend to blend in more easily than their mineral counterparts. However, these ingredients can cause irritation for many people with sensitive skin.But for those who prefer mineral sunscreens because they sit on top of the skin and are less likely to be absorbed or cause irritation, there's a different set of complaints. Many say that mineral sunscreens feel thicker, tend to rub off more quickly, and can look a bit chalky. Although, formulas

areimproving. "The sunscreens back in the day had large zinc particles in them," says Robinson. "And that created a lot of the chalkiness and a lot of the heaviness and greasiness that we associate with sunscreens of the past."Today, new innovations have led to an improvement in the size of the particles used in mineral sunscreens. They've become smaller and use different shapes to bounce the light off skin in a more cosmetically appealing way.

Is It Safe to Wear Sunscreen?Everyone got very nervous about 'chemical' sunscreens back in February 2019, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it was going to be reevaluating the safety of all of the non-mineral sunscreen ingredients, explained Jenny Bailly, executive beauty director, during episode one.

A new studyconducted by scientists from the FDA had examined six active ingredients (avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, octisalate, and octinoxate) commonly found in sunscreen and found that after a single use, all six ingredients had been absorbed into the bloodstream. “Sunscreen is coursing through your veins!” was the general tenor of many of the headlines that ran at the time. But the mere fact that a chemical shows up in your blood (or urine) does not mean it’s causing any harm to your body. Additional data is needed to understand the long-term effects of sunscreen absorption — many of the chemicals that we encounter every day are absorbed by our bodies, but absorption does not equal risk. Experts — Robinson included — stress that consumers should still use sunscreen regularly. Additional data is definitely

notneeded to establish that sun exposure is a cause of skin cancer. "For my patients who are very, very concerned about this, I often have a conversation [about it] because the tendency is to stop [using] sunscreen altogether — and that's the worst thing," she says.

AdvertisementParticularly frustrating for Robinson is that the fear of chemicals in sunscreen has created an additional barrier in getting patients with darker skin tones to use SPF. Many of her patients still believe the myth that people with darker skin tones don't need daily sun protection—and concerns about the chemical sunscreens that generally work best on their skin aren’t helping the problem. (Only about 11 percent of non-Hispanic Black adults and about 25 percent of Hispanic adults regularly use sunscreen, compared with 40 percent of non-Hispanic white adults, according to

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by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)While people with deeper skin tones may not be more susceptible to skin cancer, theAmerican Academy of Dermatology(AAD) says that when skin cancer develops in people of color, it's often not diagnosed until the late stages. This makes the treatment difficult and the cancer can even be deadly. "I've had patients [with a darker skin tone] who didn't know they had sunburn because they didn't recognize it," warns Robinson. "They thought it was a rash on their skin."

How is SPF Measured?Once you've chosen either the mineral or chemical sunscreen route, you can consider a few otherwhen picking a specific product. The most important thing to look at on your sunscreen bottle is theSPF— or sun protection factor — which specifically refers to protection from UVB rays. The number next to it is a measure of how well the product will protect the skin against sunburn — as the SPF value increases, so does sunburn protection.

AdvertisementOne important thing to note: the SPF number only refers to how long it would take the sun's UV radiation to burn your skin when using the product as directed, versus the amount of time it would take to burn without sunscreen. So, with SPF 30, it would theoretically take you 30 times longer to burn than if you weren't wearing sunscreen. (Theoretical is the keyword here — this doesn't account for your unique complexion or how thoroughly you applied your sunscreen.)

However, SPF isnota measure of UVA protection, which brings us to our next important term to look for: broad-spectrum.Broad-spectrummeans the sunscreen offers protection from both UVB rays, which burn skin, and UVA rays, which travel deeper and cause collagen to break down. UVA rays are the rays that visibly age us, explains Robinson.

Protection against UVA radiation is more important (and complex!) than you might think. UVA radiation causes something calledoxidative stress, meaning the oxygen molecules in our skin become really unstable and create something called a free radical.Free radicals

cause the breakdown of collagen and elastin, which as we already know, leads to the development of fine lines and wrinkles. Read more: Allure »

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