Summertime SPF Made Easy

At least in TX, summer is here! And while you should use SPF every day of the year, it’s even more important during summertime – when the days are longer, the sun is stronger, and it’s easier to spend more time outdoors.

What does the SPF number mean?

Make sure your sunscreen has a SPF 30 or higher. The SPF number is the level of protection against UVB rays. It tells you how long the sun’s UV radiation would take to redden your skin when using the product exactly as directed versus the amount of time without any sunscreen. So ideally, with SPF 30 it would take you 30 times longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen. Higher SPF numbers do mean more protection, but the higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes.

  • SPF 15 sunscreens filter 93% of UVB
  • SPF 30 – 97%,
  • SPF 50 – 98%,
  • SPF 100 – 99%.

How do you get the best protection?

Choose a sunscreen with “broad spectrum” protection. Sunlight consists of two types of harmful rays that reach the earth — UVA and UVB. Sunscreens with this label protect against both. Either can lead to skin cancer. UVA rays are aging, causing wrinkles and brown spots. UVB rays are burning rays. A sunscreen with higher SPF protection and broad-spectrum coverage offers more protection against sunburn, UVA aging damage and DNA damage than comparable products with lower SPF values.

What’s the difference between “chemical” and “mineral” sunscreen?

Whetherit’s a mineral sunscreen, also known as physical sunscreen, or a chemical sunscreen,both effectively provide broad spectrum protection against damaging UVA and UVB rays. But, these two types of sunscreen ingredients act in different ways, and it is important to know the difference between them:

  • The active ingredients in a mineral sunscreen are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
  • Chemical sunscreen ingredients include oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.
  • The U.S. FDA has approved both chemical and physical sunscreen active ingredients, deeming them as safe and effective.
  • Chemical sunscreens act as filters for UV, changing the wavelength to release energy as heat that does not damage the DNA, but can cause pigmentation problems to worsen.
  • Physical sunscreens mostly reflect UV waves, so this is preferred for skin with pigmentation problems and sensitive skin.

Are you using SPF correctly?

Correct application is everything!  The SPF calculation is based on the application of 2 mg of sunscreen/square cm of skin surface. Most people only use HALF of recommended. So, if you aren’t applying enough, you will not get the SPF you are striving for, no matter what’s printed on the bottle.

The breakdown: 6 full teaspoons (a shot glass full) to cover the body of an average adult.

  • 1/2 teaspoon for the face and neck and ears, and
  • 1 teaspoon for arms,
  • 2 teaspoons for legs,
  • 1 for chest and abdomen, and
  • 1 1/2 for the shoulders and back.

What is the best overall strategy to protect your skin?

It’s important not to rely on high-SPF sunscreens alone. Sunscreen applied correctly is just one part of a strategy that should also include:

  • Seeking shade
  • Covering up with dark, UV-absorbing clothing,
  • Wide-brimmed hats,
  • UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Take UV-protective supplements like Heliocare before you go out in the sun. Several studies demonstrate its capacity to protect DNA.
  • Use liposomal Vitamin C or Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (GlowbioticsMD Advanced Vitamin C Serum) topically before and after sun exposure to quench free radicals.

How do I treat a sunburn?

It’s important to begin treating a sunburn as soon as possible. In addition to stopping further UV exposure, we recommend treating a sunburn with:

  • Cool baths, OTC hydrocortisone cream, and barrier-forming moisturizer (Dermaviduals DMS Cream) or oleogels (AnteAge BioGel).
  • Aspirin or ibuprofen. This can help reduce the swelling, redness, and discomfort.
  • Drink extra water. A sunburn draws fluid to the skin surface and away from the rest of the body.
  • Supplements that have been proven to help sunburn inflammation and UV damage:
    • 200k units vitamin D one-time oral dose, plus
    • 500mg oral niacinamide daily for 5 days, plus
    • 2g vitamin C oral supplements daily for 5 days, plus
    • 1000 units vitamin E oral softgels daily for 5 days. 
  • Do not treat sunburns with “-caine” products such as benzocaine. 

For more on sun protection and treatment of skin damage and hyperpigmentation due to sun exposure, give us a call at 512-646-2744. Products mentioned here are available in our office and in our website shop!