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SPF & Beauty: What You Need to Know

SPF & Beauty: What You Need to Know

Is your make-up genuinely giving you the sun protection factor (SPF) you need? Make-up companies make it a point to boast of their SPF features in their foundations, powders, primers, and skincare products, but do we really need SPF? Will too much of it cause damage or harm to my skin? And what do all of those numbers actually mean for the average consumer?

Why Do We Need SPF?

According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer continues to rise by almost as much as 200% over the last 20 years! SPF, which stands for Sun Protection Factor,is a metric that determines how well a product can protect skin from ultraviolet radiation– a significant contributorto skin cancers.

There are three types of ultraviolet rays:

UVA Rays: UVA rays are by far the most common and penetrate the second layer of skins cells. They damage cells and their DNA causing them to age. They contribute to fine lines and wrinkles and can lead to some forms of skin cancers. One source of UVA rays istanning beds.

UVB Rays: Thesetypes of rays contain more energy than UVA rays and can damageDNA cells as well. They affect the top layer of skin and commonly see the side effectsof UVB rays in the form of sunburns. They are dangerous and cause most typesof skin cancers.

UVC Rays: Stronger than UVB rays, UVC rays do not usually make it through our atmosphere and are not in the form of sunlight. They arenot known to cause skin cancer.

UV rays are more potent at different times of the day than others. Between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. seem to pose the greatestrisk of exposure. They arealso seasonal – although the riskdoes not entirelygo away. Spring and summer, however, tend to posethe most significantdangersover fall and winter.

SPF is useful in combating the harmful effects of these rays, butyou are probably asking once more, whatdo all of those numbers mean, and do they work?

SPF Numbers

In ordinary circumstances, if you were applying SPF to your skin in the form of the average sunscreen protecting lotion, you would usethis product every two hours to protect your skin from the sun.

After you apply sunscreen or a product with SPF, it typically takes between 10 and 20 minutes for the sunscreen to beginworking. The number next to the SPF gives some indication as it relates to how much time it would take for skin to start burning. For example, a person wearing SPF 15 is wearing a product that prevents the skin from experiencing sunburn15 times longer or 150-300 minutes or 2.5-5 hours. It offers all but about 3 percent of protection from the sun’s rays.

If the SPF is 30, it is better than SPF 15 with the added caveat of blocking all but 3 percent ultravioletrays. SPF 45 providessunscreenprotectionof about 98 percent of ultraviolet rays.

A higher SPFisa greatoption for those with sensitive skin orhasa history of skin cancer in the family, butthey may not be enough, nor may they necessarily be the best option. Many dermatologists agree that SPF 30 is an excellent choice in the campaign against UV rays and skin damage.

Although these numbers might lead one to believe that twoproducts with the same SPF are created equal, experts would caution you not to make this mistake. Some manufacturers produceproducts with additionalproperties that make them moreuser-friendly than others such as being a long-lasting,broad-spectrumshield orwater-resistant.

Let’s face it, understanding what all of this means is tricky and even those who seek to take the proper precautions to protect their skin still make a few mistakes along the way, misunderstanding the intent of SPF makeup and how well it may or may not work with SPF sunscreens.

Beauty and SPF

Cosmetic companies are choosing to now include SPF in their products as an added benefit for all-day protection from the sun. Most lip balm contains an SPF of 15 or higher. Some foundations may contain SPF of 20 or higher.  Consumers, however, might be questioning the validity of protection they promise to offer – mainly when staring at a foundation that promises SPF 15 coverage.

In a New York Times article, one expert warns against thinking that you have full coverage when wearing cosmetics like a foundation that has SPF 15. Our application habits may be at the heart of how much protection our skin truly has against UVA and UVB. Think about the way you apply your foundation. You may apply it heavily one location and lighter in the other – whether on purpose or due to the fact you are rushing through your morning routine. On the other hand, if you have a desk job and are barely able to leave the office for more than an hour, your makeup may provide adequate coverage.

Make-up and moisturizers that contain UV protection are available in a mineral-based and chemical-based formula. Mineral-based formulas tend to fair well because they include titanium or zinc oxide which are excellent barriers to the environment for the skin against sun damage and other toxins according to the Chicago Tribune.

In addition, these products are available for all types and shades of skin. No one group is not at risk of developing skin cancer, and it seems the cosmetics industry is aware.

For those who spend most of their days outdoors or have jobs that bring them in close touch with mother nature, it is highly unlikely that a foundation or other make-up product will deliver adequate coverage. Also, you’ll need to reapply your makeup frequently throughout the day to continue reaping the benefits of sunscreen protection (i.e., every 2 hours).

SPF cosmetics offer an additional line of defense against harmful UV rays, and while some of these products may not be able to entirely protect your skin in the same capacity as sunscreen lotion, they are a fantastic reinforcement.

Is There Risk for Too Much of a Good Thing?

Can you use too much SPF? In short, the answer is no. Less is not more. A little dab won’t do ya and you want to be generous in your application of SPF products. Some even go as far as to say you should use more than you think you need.

Some dermatologists encourage the use of sunscreen before applying your makeup to ensure adequate coverage for the day. You cannot and should not rely on the SPF in your makeup to being sufficient. Also, you should not assume that wearing the highest SPF is your ticket to an all-day roast fest under the sun. There are those who would tell you that once your skin has tanned, you have already done damage.

There you have it. SPF in makeup is real, and it does offer some unique benefits in protecting our skin. What we must remember is that it cannot be a reliable source on its own for those who spend the bulk of their day under the sun. You must remember to use sunscreen to supplement your makeup practices if you intend to spend the day in the sun.

Is There an Alternative to the Chemical or Mineral SPF?

While we certainly applaud all the wonderful benefits of sun protection, we at Shinkafa believe that as we protect, we must strive to do no harm.

So, we believe that those looking for an alternative to the established chemical-based or mineral-based SPF formulations, for whatever reason, including chemical sensitivity, may find some solace in an excellent moisturizing cream like Shinkafa’s Body Cream With SPF, that contains ingredients with naturally occurring sun protection especially against UV rays and photo damage.

These ingredients include shea butter, safflower seed oil, avocado oil and squalene for its action in protecting the skin from free radicals.  However, the sun protection offered by such a cream will not likely exceed 20 SPF, which may be sufficient for some people, but not for everyone, but may be ideal for those that need constant but low SPF and proper hydration.

So, it is important to know your skin to be sure of what will work well for you.

ABC's of UV

Image: UPMC.com

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