SPF and Sunscreen: Your Ultimate Guide to Sun Protection

As the sun's rays warm us and bring us joy, warmth, and our daily dose of vitamin D, it is essential to remember that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can have very harmful effects on our skin.

In order to protect ourselves and our precious solar capital from these harmful rays, the use of a sunscreen with an appropriate sun protection factor (SPF) is essential. In this article, we will explore the importance of SPF and sunscreen and how they work together to protect our skin from burns and prevent premature aging.

Understanding SPF

(Sun Protection Factor)is a measure of the effectiveness of a sunscreen in protecting the skin from UVB rays, which are responsible for sunburns. The index indicates the level of protection provided by the sunscreen. For example, an SPF 30 sunscreen filters about 97% of UV rays, while an SPF 50 sunscreen filters about 98% of UVB rays. SPF acts as a shield by absorbing, reflecting (mineral protection), or scattering UV rays before they reach the surface of the skin.

Institut Esthederm
Marie Stella Maris

UVA/UVB, What's the Difference?

The Importance of Sunscreen, commonly known as sunblock or sun protector, sunscreen is a topical product designed to protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are present even in winter. They penetrate clouds, windows, and deep into the skin, contributing to premature aging and altering the quality of our elastin and collagen fibers, which provide firmness. UVA rays also stimulate melanin synthesis and disrupt our melanosomes, leading to unsightly hyperpigmentation spots. UVB rays, on the other hand, primarily cause sunburns. Both types of rays can lead to the development of melanomas in the long run, which can in turn lead to skin cancer (which has been increasing in recent years). Hence, it is important to protect yourself throughout the year.

Considering Different Skin Phototypes

There are six different skin phototypes with varying levels of sensitivity and sunscreen protection needs.

1. Type 1 & 2, Very fair to fair skin: Fair skin tends to burn easily and has less melanin (the pigment that provides natural sun protection). If you have fair skin, it is important to choose a higher SPF and take additional protective measures such as seeking shade during peak sun hours.

2. Type 3 & 4, Medium to matt skin: this type of skin contains more melanin than fair skin, providing some natural protection. However, it is still important to use sunscreen with an appropriate SPF to prevent sun damage.

3. Type 5 & 6, Dark skin: Darker skin contains higher levels of melanin, providing greater natural sun protection. However, this does not mean that dark skin is entirely immune to sun damage. Sunscreen is still necessary, especially during intense sun exposure or prolonged outdoor activities.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen When choosing a sunscreen, it is essential to consider the following factors:

1. Broad-Spectrum Protection: Look for sunscreens labeled "broad-spectrum," indicating protection against UVA and UVB rays.

2. SPF Level: The SPF level should be tailored to your skin type and duration of sun exposure. For daily protection, an SPF of 30 or higher is recommended. However, individuals with fair or sensitive skin may benefit from a higher SPF.

3. Water-Resistant: If you plan to swim or engage in activities that cause sweating, opt for a water-resistant sunscreen to ensure longer-lasting protection.

4. Skin Sensitivity: Individuals with sensitive skin should choose sunscreens specifically formulated to meet their needs. These are often referred to as mineral sunscreens, which provide mechanical protection. These products contain pigment particles based on zinc or titanium dioxide, which have the ability to reflect UV rays and prevent them from penetrating the skin.

Proper Application of Sunscreen

Proper application of sunscreen maximizes its effectiveness. Follow these guidelines for optimal protection:

1. Generous Application: Apply sunscreen generously to all exposed areas of the skin. Don't forget commonly neglected areas such as ears, the back of the neck, and the tops of the feet.

2. Early Application: Apply sunscreen at least 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow it to penetrate the skin. 3. Reapplication: To determine when to reapply sunscreen, simply multiply your skin type by the SPF. For example, if you have a skin type 2 and you are using SPF 50, you should reapply your sunscreen every 1 hour and 40 minutes (2 x 50 > 100 min > 1h 40min). If it's SPF 30, then it's every hour (2 x 30 > 60 min > 1h). For other skin types, apply sunscreen every two hours or more frequently if you have been swimming, sweating heavily, or toweling off.

4. Additional Sun Protection: Sunscreen should be part of a comprehensive strategy. Seek shade between noon and 4 p.m., wear protective clothing, use sunglasses, and if necessary, wear wide-brimmed hats to protect your face.

Good to Know

• Even if you are accustomed to sun exposure, you still need and should apply sunscreen.

• The level of protection provided by your sunscreen decreases over time. Therefore, it is not advisable to use sunscreen that was opened and used last year.

• You can still get a tan while using sunscreen, and it will be a longer-lasting tan.

• Applying sunscreen to wet skin significantly reduces its SPF. Protecting our skin from the harmful effects of the sun is essential for maintaining skin health and preventing long-term irreversible damage.

Sun protection preserves our precious solar capital, protecting our skin from immediate sunburns and the long-term effects of UV rays. By choosing the right sunscreen for our skin type and following proper application techniques, we can finally enjoy the sun responsibly and maintain healthy and radiant skin for many years. Remember, SPF and sunscreen are your number one allies in the fight against sun damage, regardless of your skin type.

Our product recommendations, by Raphaël

For daily use, if you are also interested in anti-aging action, we highly recommend Dermalogica's Skin Dynamic Moisturizer with SPF 50. It contains anti-aging peptides and antioxidant white tea, and its smooth and comfortable texture will impress many. For the most sensitive skin, you will be charmed by Dermalogica's "Invisible Physical Defense" with mineral SPF 30. Thanks to its bioactive mushroom complex, it eliminates redness and tightness in the skin. You will also be protected against blue light damage. The exclusive brand My Blend also offers an ultra-light hydrating antioxidant screen with vitamin E and SPF 50. Ideal for urban individuals, it combines anti-pollution and blue light protection with broad-spectrum UV filters. There's no doubt that this comprehensive and lightweight product, quickly absorbed by the skin, will encourage you to protect yourself properly on a daily basis.

As for sun care products that you should absolutely pack in your suitcase, our choice without hesitation is Esthederm's sun care range. This brand, with its counter-current philosophy, has numerous patented advanced technologies, including:

• Global Cellular Protection aims to neutralize free radicals and fight against the main factors that degrade skin structures.

Adaptasun Technology, which optimizes all stages of the pigmentation process (natural skin protection) for a faster, more sustained, and especially more long-lasting tan.

• Cellular Water Patent: at the core of their formulas, this active water replicates the qualities naturally found in the skin. Unique, it enhances cellular vitality and helps preserve youthful assets. It enhances the effectiveness of all their treatments.

You can finally say goodbye to potential sunburns!

Posted in: Cosmetics