i {heart} SPF (and you should too.)

Being that we're in the thick of summertime, I feel I'd be a negligent giver of skin care advice, if I didn't spend a moment emphasizing just how important sun protection is. I know you know, but consider this a gentle reminder from your esthetician: SPF is one of, if not the most important parts of your skin care routine.

At i {heart} skin, every. single. treatment. ends with the application of SPF. The last thing I want is for my clients to sabotage their investment with a hefty dose of UV exposure. But as with any skin care, you have to keep it up on a daily basis for best results.

Unfortunately, most of us are either using sun protection incorrectly or not using it at all. Here in Colorado, it's extra important due to our proximity to the sun. Sad day. We get more days of sunshine in our fair state but we also have a higher incidence of skin cancer than sea-level states. But read on, if you still need convincing.

Sad but true fact: the suns rays are not your friend: I know it's hot outside and we all want to be outdoors getting our tan on. BUT, before you lather on the baby oil and go lay out, please take a moment to consider that ALL color from the sun is sun damage to the skin.

Nerdy science interlude: The sun produces two types of UV radiation UVA and UVB. The UVB rays are what causes noticeable immediate damage. These rays have a shorter wavelength, can burn you year round and are the main cause of skin cancer and painful burns. UVA rays on the other hand, penetrate deeper and contribute to aging beneath the skin's surface.

Over time these rays will cause premature aging, brown spots, wrinkles and uneven skin tone. They can also darken acne spots and prolong their appearance on the surface. Sounds lovely doesn't it? As your esthetician I can help you with some of these things, but wouldn't you rather just prevent them from happening in the first place?

Let's talk about the different options for sun protection. Short of wearing long clothes and a big floppy hat (which I fully encourage BTW) you're probably going to need some more practical coverage in the form of a sunblock. There's a lot of debate over physical and chemical sunscreens and the issue remains too complicated for this paragraph or even this post.

For now, I'm going to go ahead and say either is better than no protection. But in case you're interested in the difference - physical sunblocks use ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to deflect those UV rays, whereas chemical sunscreens employ a host of chemicals to absorb the rays before they penetrate the skin. Many sunscreens on the market today, use physical and chemical blockers combined.

So then what number SPF do you need? I'm going to go ahead and put this out there and I hope we can still stay friends: The SPF in your makeup or your moisturizer is not enough protection. Most of these product contain only a small amount of protection usually around or less than SPF 15 and aren't likely to be reapplied throughout the day. Think of these as "bonus" protection on top of your other SPF. I recommend at least SPF 30 for daily use on the face and body. (If you're worried about clogging your pores with a heavy screen, please see my previous post for alternative tips and tricks.)

And don't forget to re-apply! The SPF number refers to the amount of time you'll be protected. The suns rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when most of us are out and about. Without sunscreen you can afford about 10 glorious minutes in the sun before you're at risk. SPF then multiplies that amount of time. Example: when you apply SPF 30: 10x30 = 300. After 300 minutes, you'll need to re-apply. That said, a better rule is to apply every two hours, especially if you're sweating or in the water. Higher SPF numbers aren't necessarily better. You can go with a lower number and get better coverage by simply re-applying frequently.

How much should you apply? Think about the size of a shot glass for your entire body. Most of us use about half of that, but this is one of the few times when less isn't more. Not to mention sunscreen can expire and become ineffective after some time. Be sure to check the date on your bottle and then go to town! Make sure you cover all parts of the body including ears, neck, feet and hands.

Alright, enough preaching. I think you get the point. If you still have questions, feel free to drop me a line. You can also find some great infographics about SPF and skin health on the i {heart} skin Pinterest boards.

Otherwise, you may now go back to enjoying your summer. As soon as you apply your sunscreen, of course.

About the blog:

This is a blog about everyday skin health. As an esthetician I strive to provide comprehensive skin care advice and knowledge to anyone who wants to know more.

Read on and please don't hesitate to reach out! I love educating people about their skin and am always happy to respond to questions.

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