Summer is just around the corner and that means warmer weather and more time spent outside. It's a great time for the whole family to get together and take part in outdoor activities! Although we should protect our skin all year round, many people are still under the assumption that sun protection is only needed when it's sunny or for days at the beach. Don't be fooled -- be smart about sun protection and read on for all the 411 on protecting your skin!
I think many people, including myself get confused or overwhelmed with all the products available and the various acronyms that come with sun protection so I wanted to break down what everything means. First, SPF stands for sun protection factor and the SPF number simply refers to the amount of protection against UVB or Ultraviolet B protection.
For example, if you use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 it will filter out 93% of UVB rays. SPF 30 will filter out 97%, 50 will filter out 98% and so on. Most dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15 on your face and body. When you go to your local drugstore and see rows of sunscreen, your first thought might be to load up on the highest SPF and think you're set for the day but that's not entirely true.
UVB vs. UVA
So what exactly is UVB? UVB and UVA are both types of ultraviolet rays and they both mean different things to your skin. UVB rays are responsible for giving your body a nice bronze glow along with sunburns but these rays play a huge role when it comes to skin cancer. UVB rays are dangerous because they can reach your skin through windows and regardless of the weather UVB rays are present and you should keep yourself protected.
UVA rays aren't as likely to give you a sunburn as UVB, but they're just as bad! UVA rays penetrate through light clothing and car windows and continued exposure to UVA rays reduces collagen and elastin in your skin. Collagen and elastin are what keeps your skin looking young and firm.
Earlier I mentioned that simply using a sunscreen with the highest SPF wasn't enough, now allow me to explain! Sunscreen with a high SPF doesn't mean that you'll be protected for longer periods of time than a lower SPF.
The efficiency of sunscreen diminishes over time so your SPF 100 won't work the same at 4pm as it did at 11am and if you're sweating or in the water; you're protected for even less amount of time. Sunscreen also comes in waterproof and water-resistant formulas and which provide protection in the water for up to 80 minutes so it's always good to remember to reapply sunscreen often.
Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes prior to any sun exposure and should be reapplied at least every 2 hours. The amount of sunscreen you apply is also important; to cover your entire body you should be slathering enough sunscreen to fill up a shot glass.
So, make sure you pick a sunscreen with a decent amount of SPF that provides protection from both UVB and UVA rays and choose a waterproof formula if you'll be spending a lot of time in the water. Reapply often and be sure you're using enough sunscreen! I hope you and your family have a sun-safe summer and enjoy all the beauty and fun that LA has to offer!