Sunscreen doesn't just prevent sunburns; it also reduces long-term skin damage, premature aging, skin cancer, and hyperpigmentation. As with most things, sunscreen only works when used correctly. Most people do not apply enough, may miss an area of the body, or may not reapply often enough during long periods of time outdoors. Outdoor sports that involve heavy sweating, running water and waves, and toweling off your body can all remove your sunscreen. For a full-body application, at least one ounce, or one shot glass full should be used. Also, some sunscreens only protect against UVB rays, leaving your skin vulnerable to the aging effects of the UVA spectrum. Are you really getting the sun protection that you think you are?
This June, new FDA regulations about sunscreen labeling will take effect. These updates will hopefully make it easier for the consumer to choose a better sunscreen. Misleading words like "sun block" and "waterproof" will not be allowed, as no product blocks 100% of UV radiation, nor is any product incapable of being washed off over time. A "water resistant" product will protect for 40 minutes in moving water, while "very water resistant" will protect for 80 minutes. Look for sunscreens with "broad spectrum" on the label. SPF is only a measure of how well a sunscreen protects against UVB rays that cause sunburn. Going forward, if a product is labeled "broad spectrum," it must contain ingredients that shield skin from UVA rays that can lead to skin cancer and deep wrinkles. It has also been proposed to cap SPF ratings at 50, so that deceiving ratings of 100+ will be taken off the market.
In addition to sunscreen, use of antioxidants improves sun protection by neutralizing free radicals that are created by sun exposure. Several antioxidants, including caffeine, have been shown to destroy abnormally functioning skin cells, potentially reducing risk of skin cancer. High quality sunscreens will include antioxidants in the formulation, like PCA's Active Very Water Resistant spf 45, which contains caffeine and silybum marianum extract. Antioxidant serums and creams can also be applied daily to slow down photoaging. Renew Triple Antioxidant Cream contains caffeine, green tea extract, and resveratrol, as well as the humectant hyaluronic acid for hydration. Another antioxidant well-known for minimizing UV damage is pomegranate extract. Try Jane Iredale's Pommist spray over your sunscreen to hydrate your skin and reduce inflammation and free radical damage.
Regardless of the SPF number on your product, or what additional boosters you are using, your skin still needs a shade break. Give yourself a time out by resting on benches under trees or park shelters. UPF sun protection clothing is growing increasingly popular. Hats, rashguards for water activities, and loose, cool beach cover-ups are now being produced to provide proven protection from ultraviolet light.
All sunscreens at Renew Dermatology offer broad spectrum protection and at least an SPF 30 rating. During May and June all of our sunscreens will be 20%! Relax and enjoy the sun this summer, just don't forget your broad spectrum products!