Decoding your SPF.

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The hot summer sun is out, bathing suits are on, pool floaties inflated, you are ready to go out and soak up the beautiful weather.  Don’t forget your sunscreen! But what kind? UVA coverage? UVB coverage?  What does broad spectrum even mean?

The sunscreen isle can be one of the more confusing places that we spend our time.  So here is a breakdown of what all of that science stuff means:

  • UV Radiation refers to the spectrum of light that reaches the earth from the sun.
  • The types we are concerned with regarding sun protection are UVA and UVB Rays.
  • UVA rays account for up to 95% of the rays that we are exposed to, and are dominant ray in tanning beds.   They penetrate more deeply into the skin than UVB rays.  UVA rays damage Keritinocytes (a type of skin cell) in the Basal layer of the skin, which is where most types of skin cancer begin.
  •  UVB rays are the rays responsible for sunburns.  (Helps to remember: UVB=Burn)  These rays tend to be more intense but do not penetrate the skin as deeply as UVA rays.   The intensity can vary depending on season, location, and time of day.
  • Although you should always protect yourself from these damaging UV rays, they area most significant between 10:00am and 4:00pm.
  • UV radiation causes damage to cellular DNA, causing premature aging, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation (sun spots), and are capable of producing genetic mutations in skin cells that are likely to lead to cancer.

Now that we know what we are protecting ourselves from, let’s get to proper protection so we can all enjoy a safe and healthy summer!  You should be looking for broad spectrum protection, meaning the product is effective in shielding from UVA and UVB rays.  There are 2 general categories of sunscreens: Chemical and Physical.

  • Physical varieties protect by deflecting or blocking harmful rays by creating a physical barrier.
    •  Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are the ingredients that mean your product has a physical sunscreen in it.
  • Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun’s rays.
    • Be aware that it takes 20 minutes from the time of application have effective protection when using chemical sunscreens!
    • There are a wide variety chemical sunscreens so look for ingredients such as Octylcrylene, Avobenzone, Octinoxate, Helioplex, Octisalate, Oxybenzone, Tinosorb, among many others
    • Depending on which particular ingredient is in your product it will be more effective for UVA or UVB protection, or it can offer broad spectrum coverage.
    •  Chemical sunscreens have a higher potential to cause allergic responses

Quintessa Aesthetic center has a wide variety of SPF products to choose from.  Stop in and speak with one of our skincare experts to help you to select the perfect sun protection for your unique skin. Remember to reapply every 2 hours to keep your skin healthy and burn free so you can maximize your summer fun!

You are ready to shop!  Next week we will talk about the 5 Fundamentals for Sun Protection

 Contributed by: Sarah Ridderbush, Licensed Esthetician

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