I'm a firm believer in applying SPF to your face everyday. After using a tanning bed for years, I knew my skin was already damaged and it was time to be more proactive with my skincare. I started by finding an SPF light enough to wear on my face everyday. My favorite product is, A Perfect World SPF 40 Age-Defense Moisturizer with White Tea by Origins. Truth is, a couple weeks ago I lazily put on my sunscreen, only applying to the "important parts" and "parts that tend to burn." After a few hours in the sun, I went home with a very painful sunburn. I guess I wasn't as proactive about protecting the rest of my body from the sun as I was with my face. After going to the store to purchase some new sunscreen and staring at all of the different kinds, I wondered which sunscreen was best for me and went home empty-handed and overwhelmed. I decided to do some research to find the best options for me.
Sunscreen vs. Sunblock
First off, what's the difference between sunscreen and sunblock? Sunblock acts as a physical barrier for your skin, blocking UV rays from breaking through your skin and causing sunburns. While sunblock prevents rays from damaging your skin physically (sunburns), sunscreen prevents sun damage chemically. Sunscreen sinks into your skin to not only prevent burns, but reduce damage to your skin. Sunscreen is usually the more popular option, but nowadays formulas are usually a mix of both sunscreen and sunblock.
UVA vs. UVB
There are two types of harmful rays: UVA and UVB. UVA are long wave rays and UVB are short wave rays. So what does that mean and which one do I need to protect my skin from? UVA rays penetrate into the skin's thickest layer (the dermis). UVB rays burn the superficial layers of your skin. Both can play a big role in developing skin cancer and premature aging. These rays are strongest between 10 AM and 4 PM, so plan your SPF accordingly when spending your day outside. Sunblocks are formulated to protect against UVB rays and sunscreen is meant to protect against UVA rays. To get protection from both chose a broad spectrum sunscreen (which will also include sunblock).
What SPF do I need?
SPF stands for sun protection factor. There's actually a formula to use when picking out which sunscreen is best for your day.
SPF Number X Time to Burn without Protection = Time to Burn with Protection
For example, if you're using SPF 30 and you usually burn within 10 minutes you will be protected for 300 minutes (SPF 30 X 10 min = 300 minutes of protection). It's recommended to use a broad spectrum SPF of 30 or higher to protect not only against sunburn, but reduce the risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging caused by the sun. Only use a lower SPF if you know you won't be outside for long.
Are you using your Sunscreen correctly?
I know this sounds silly, but I wasn't using my sunscreen correctly. Did you know you're supposed to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure? AKA, not as you arrive to the pool - oops. This allows the sunscreen to sink into your skin before being exposed to the sun's rays. When slathering on your sunscreen be sure to use at least an ounce on your whole body, not thin layers like you would a body lotion. Really slather it on! If you're spending the day at the pool or going on a hike (or anything that will make you work up a sweat) be sure to reapply because it WILL rinse off!
Top Rated Sunscreens
All of the sunscreens I'm linking here are top-rated by the 2018 Consumer Report and some top-rated brands at beauty stores.
These sunscreens are considered clean - they utilize organic ingredients and take out the bad ingredients while still doing the job. Love that!
CC and BB creams, plus a setting powder with built in SPF. I personally use the Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream everyday that includes SPF 35.
Wondering which one I picked out for myself? I decided on the Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense. I chose this one because it had great reviews and when I went to Sephora the associates all said I had to try it! It's unique because it has a bronze tint to it, giving you a slight glow. Plus, it has clean ingredients - can't complain about that!
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