Sunscreen is like a foreign substance – very confusing and difficult to decipher. Don’t let people lead you astray, choosing the right sunscreen is a real commitment. If you are currently not using sunscreen on your face, neck and décolletage every single day you need to start immediately. Daily application is key to preventing premature skin aging, skin cancer, and free radicals.
I strongly believe that sunscreen should replace your daily moisturizer, that way you will never “forget” to apply it. It could be a long journey, finding the right formula for you may be easier said then done (especially if you are acne prone.) While researching new sunscreens I’ve accumulated a ton of useful information that I compiled here for all of you 🙂
UVB rays are responsible for sunburn and skin reddening, it also plays a key role in the development of skin cancer. Since UVA rays penetrate the deep layers of skin they are commonly associated with skin aging, photoaging and tanning but in recent years they have also been associated with the development of skin cancer according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. It is important to choose a sunscreen labeled broad spectrum as UVA rays can penetrate our skin through windows, clouds and glare from snow and water. That is why it’s vital to apply a broad spectrum sunscreen daily even in the winter and on cloudy days.
In other words… that glorious six billion year old star that feels oh so good on your skin is a con woman. She lures you in with her feel good vibes and her promise of making you look sickly to glowing only to back stab you 20 years later with an assortment of unflattering facial wrinkles, brown spots and leathery skin. What.A.Bitch.
So you’ve decided to embrace sunscreen (good choice) your next step is picking out the right formula for you. There are two types of sunscreens on the market: chemical and physical.
Chemical sunscreens are actually more widely available then physical because they are resilient to water and sweat. Chemical sunscreens use a variety of clear chemical filters to absorb UV light and scatter it all over the body. Chemical sunscreens are absolutely attractive to athletes because of the sweat and water resistant capabilities in addition to woman who wear makeup. Chemical sunscreens apply so beautifully under makeup they can double as a makeup primer.
I mean really, chemical sunscreens sound like a winner to me, unfortunately they have a bevy of problems. One of them is the application process, in order to be the most effective they must be applied to CLEAN skin before targeted treatments and serums. That is just an unreasonable expectation, I know a lot of women who use anti-aging serums and prescription acne treatments, the directions clearly state they must be applied before moisturizer. Plus, chemical filters can lose up to 90% of their effectiveness in one hour! WTF. They may be water and sweat resistant but they must be reapplied every 2 hours to retain their effectiveness. Again, this is just unreasonable, especially if you are going to the office.
Also, there has been some controversy circulating chemical filters and links to cancer causing free radicals and possible endocrine disruptors.
According to Dr. Oz, chemical filters “cause abnormal development of fetuses and growing children. They cause early puberty and premature breast development in girls, and small and undescended testicles in boys. They cause low sperm counts and infertility. Endocrine disruptors that act like estrogen can contribute to the development of breast and ovarian cancers in women, and other endocrine disruptors may increase the chance of prostate cancer in men.” He goes on to say that while “chemical sunscreens function by absorbing UV light. In the process, some may get used up and mutate. Some generate DNA-damaging chemicals called “free radicals.” These may lead to cancers and skin aging.”
Avobenzone is the main ingredient in chemical sunscreens and is notoriously known to be unstable so it is stabilized when formulated in conjunction with other UV filters.
Chemical UV filters: Avobenzone, Octylcrylene, Octinoxate, Octisalate, Oxybenzone, Homosalate, Helioplex, 4-MBC, Mexoryl SX and XL, Tinosorb S and M, Uvinul T 150, Uvinul A Plus.
When people think of physical sunscreens they think of the lifeguards in the 70s and 80s with their unattractive white nose! Physical sunscreens have really come a long way since then, nowadays they go on less chalky white. Physical filters are minerals that work to block UV rays by creating a shield on your skin – UV rays literally bounce off.
Physical sunscreens are notoriously harder to apply and must be gently massaged into skin. Once completely rubbed in they begin deflecting rays immediately and they will sit just as well under makeup if properly applying. If you are acne prone and your tend to break out from mineral makeup, the titanium dioxide in physical sunscreens may cause irritation. Not all sunscreens are created equal though, not all will break you out. It is definitely a trial and error for those with problematic skin.
I am advocate for physical sunscreens because they are generally safer and so long as you are not sweating or outdoors for long periods they don’t need to be reapplied, plus they can be applied LAST in your morning skincare routine. They are perfect for work days.
Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are stable UV filters. Physical UV filters: titanium dioxide, zinc oxide.
If you are at the beach, hiking, playing outdoor sports and generally spending the day outside you will need to cover ALL exposed skin with sunscreen whether it is chemical or physical every 2 hours. That is drilled into us whenever we read about sunscreen but it becomes harder to apply every 2 hours when you are working since we know woman typically wear makeup when they go to work. How the hell are you supposed too apply goopy white sunscreen over your makeup?
Mineral makeup. Thats right, you heard me, mineral makeup is made up of the same UV filters found in physical sunscreen. People tend to get shiny during the day and they use blotting papers and/or powder, why not use sunscreen powder? It’s easy to apply, won’t disturb your makeup, takes down shine and is convenient to carry in a purse.
Peter Thomas Roth and Colorescience make excellent sunscreen powders. If you work inside away from windows you can apply it once daily when you get shiny or if you are going out for lunch, if you work outside you should be applying it more liberally numerous times a day in addition to applying normal sunscreen every few hours.
Sunscreen is the #1 most important step in preventing skin cancer and wrinkles, without it, expensive serums, eye creams and retinoids are worthless. You need to use a tsp of sunscreen moisturizer with a minimum SPF of 30 on your face, neck and chest daily to get proper sun protection. Any makeup with SPF is an added benefit, using just makeup is not enough as you do not apply enough makeup to get the proper SPF factor. And it doesn’t hurt to use protection containing antioxidants. Paula Begoun has compiled a list of the best moisturizers with sunscreen on her website that is worth checking out before you end up purchasing since many of them contain a ton of antioxidants.
Remember, protect now to prevent later on.
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