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9 answers to frequently asked questions about sunscreen

What’s the most effective way to prevent sun damage to your skin? Don’t expose yourself to the sun. But avoiding the sun is a terrible way to pass your time, especially when the sun’s rays are partly responsible for boosting your mood. So what’s the best we have to protect the surface of our skin and the many layers beneath? Suncream. From SPF ratings to skin types, here are the answers to all your sunscreen questions.

1. How much attention should I pay to FPS?

No sunscreen is 100% effective in preventing burns and skin lesions. Sunscreen can increase the time you can spend outdoors.
And time spent outdoors correlates somewhat with FPS. Recent research shows that SPF 100 compared to SPF 50 makes a real difference when it comes to protecting your skin from damage and burns. As a minimum you should have 30 FPS, higher FPS tend to be stickier so some people don’t enjoy them that much. But that extra protection is worth it for a day at the beach, even if you don’t intend to use it every day.

Conclusion: SPF 30 is the minimum, but the higher the better.

What is sunscreen SPF?

SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, measures the amount of solar energy needed to cause sunburn when wearing sunscreen versus unprotected skin. A sunscreen with an SPF of 30, when used as directed, will block 97% of UVB rays from reaching your skin. An FPS of 50 blocks 98%. Keep in mind that while higher FPS offer better protection, they don’t last longer than lower FPS, so you’ll have to reapply them just as often.

2. How does UVA and UVB protection work?

The sun emits different types of light rays, two of which are mainly responsible for damaging your skin: Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB). UVB rays are shorter and cannot pass through glass, but they are the ones that cause sunburn. UVA rays, which can penetrate glass, are more insidious, attacking your skin beneath the surface even if you don’t feel a sting.

That’s why you need to make sure your sunscreen label says “UVA/UVB protection” or “multispectrum.”

3. What is the difference between physical and chemical sunscreens?

You’ll hear about physical (or mineral) and chemical sunscreens. These terms refer to the active ingredients used. Since zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are technically chemicals, it’s actually more accurate to refer to physical sunscreens as “inorganic” and chemical sunscreens as “organic.” There is also only a 5-10% difference in how these ingredients work since both types absorb UV rays.

Physical (inorganic) sun protection

There are only two approved inorganic sunscreens: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Inorganic sunscreens have been thought to create a protective barrier on the skin’s surface that reflects and scatters UV rays away from your body. However, recent research suggests that inorganic sunscreens actually protect the skin by absorbing up to 95% of the sun’s rays.

Beauty Facts! Physical sunscreens usually leave a white streak unless you’re using a tinted product or one that uses nanotechnology to break down the particles. Even though physical sunscreens are advertised as “natural,” most are not and must be treated with synthetic chemicals for the sunscreen to glide smoothly onto the skin.

Chemical (organic) sunscreen

All other active ingredients that are not zinc or titanium are considered chemical sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens absorb into your skin like a lotion instead of creating a barrier on the skin. These active ingredients “cause a chemical reaction that converts UV rays into heat so they cannot harm the skin.

4. How often should I apply sunscreen?

Whether you spend the afternoon in the sun or not, make sure you put on enough sunscreen for it to actually work. Most of us don’t do this. The average person in a bathing suit needs the equivalent of a full shot glass every two hours to cover all exposed areas, including the face. If you spend a day at the beach with your family, let’s say 6 hours in the sun, each person needs at least one bottle for themselves. If you’re not in the water, put on a shirt and hat and sit in the shade. Every security element makes the difference.

Even people with dark skin or those who tan easily should not skimp. The color of your skin should not determine how much sunscreen you should wear. Everyone, regardless of skin color, should apply enough sunscreen to ensure full protection. Skin cancer survival rates are lower among people of color, possibly due to inequalities in screening or a belief that black people don’t need sun protection.

5. Do I really need to wear it if I’m going to be indoors most of the day?

Even if you don’t spend the afternoon by the pool, you’re sure to come into contact with UV rays through the window or by looking outside. Studies show that daily use of sunscreen can significantly reduce the risk of skin cancer and signs of aging such as wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and dark spots.

Reapplication Instructions: Always reapply sunscreen. Aim for one application every two hours when outdoors. What you put on at the beginning can move or change throughout the day. It also takes about 20 minutes for the sunscreen to work. If your sunscreen has the thicker zinc oxide, you might be able to skip it, but if you’re unsure, don’t risk it!

6. Is there a difference between face and body sunscreen?

When it comes to sun protection, the only real difference between face sunscreen and body sunscreen is the size of the bottle that it comes in. No need to buy a separate bottle of sunscreen for your face if you don’t want to. There are great combination products for face and body. However, your face is often more sensitive than the rest of your body, which is why many people prefer a lightweight, non-greasy sunscreen specifically formulated for the face, especially for everyday use. These products are less likely to clog pores, cause breakouts, or irritate the skin.

You should also avoid using sunscreen sprays on your face as it is not safe to inhale. If you are in need, spray the sunscreen on your hand first and rub it in. A great on-the-go alternative, sunscreen sticks are easy to apply to the delicate skin around the eyes.

7. Should children and babies use different sunscreens than adults?

For babies and children, and people with sensitive skin, dermatologists recommend physical sunscreens because they are much less likely to cause rashes or other allergic reactions. For young children, a hypoallergenic zinc oxide sunscreen can be a good choice. Because slightly older children can find it difficult to remain seated while applying sunscreen, sunscreen sprays can make the process less painful. Hold the nozzle and spray until the skin is shiny to ensure you apply enough.

8. Should I be concerned about harmful ingredients in my sunscreen?

The active ingredients in sunscreens are strictly tested. However, chemical absorbers are more likely to cause skin irritation. If you suffer from a skin condition such as eczema or rosacea, or are prone to allergic reactions, opt for zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreens.
Fragrances are also irritating to many people, so it’s ideal to opt for a physical sunscreen that’s also fragrance-free and hypoallergenic.

9. Is my sunscreen killing coral reefs?

In May 2018, Hawaii banned the chemical sunscreens oxybenzone and octinoxate, which scientists believe contribute to coral reef bleaching. This law will come into force in 2021. Overall, it’s not a bad idea to be proactive and opt for reef-safe sunscreens that don’t contain oxybenzone or octinoxate. However, not all mineral sunscreens are completely harmless. Many mineral sunscreens contain microscopic particles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, so-called nanoparticles. Recent research suggests that these nanoparticles may also be harmful to coral reefs and aquatic life in lakes and rivers. If you want to be on the safe side, opt for a sunscreen that doesn’t include zinc oxide nanoparticles in its ingredient list.

Oxybenzone is a chemical ingredient in sunscreen that has been linked to hormonal imbalances. However, an article published in 2017 states that you would have to use this ingredient continuously for 277 years for it to disrupt your hormones. Recent studies also show that nanoparticles are safe for humans and do not penetrate deep into your skin (only to the outer dead layer).

10. How do I choose the right sunscreen for my skin type?

You literally have hundreds of choices. You can start with the basics: choose a broad spectrum and an SPF of at least 30. Then consider factors that are important to you, such as:

Other hedging options

Ultimately, “the best sunscreen is the one you’re going to use.” And if you really want to cover up, wear a hat, invest in sun-protective clothing, and stay in the shade or indoors, especially if the sun is between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m seems.

* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.

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