Sunscreen: What You Need to Know

Summer is well underway and with the introduction of our new Shade SPF 30 sunscreen, we've been talking about sunscreen a lot around here. When it comes to skin care, the importance of sun protection can't be ignored. The sun's UV rays are thought to contribute to more than 85% of skin aging and are also implicated in the development of skin cancer. For that reason, understanding how to protect your skin against sun damage is the #1 thing you can do to help keep your skin looking young and healthy.

All About UV Rays

The sun's ultraviolet rays are comprised of 3 main types:

  • UVA
  • UVB and
  • UVC.

Because UVC rays burn off before they reach the earth's atmosphere, we are primarily concerned about the effect of UVA and UVB rays.

UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis, the skin's thickest layer where they disrupt collagen and elastin and lead to premature skin aging, including wrinkles and age spots. UVB rays don’t penetrate as deeply and are primarily responsible for sunburns. They are also associated with some types of skin cancers.

UVB rays are more prevalent in the summer, but UVA rays are around all year, passing through clouds and windows and the reason most health care professionals recommend using sunscreen daily regardless of the weather or season.


What Does SPF Mean?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is a measurement of the amount of time that a sunscreen will protect you against UVB rays compared to how long it would take you to burn without any sun protection.

For example, if you typically burn in 10 minutes, an SPF 30 product will offer you protection for 30 times longer (30 x 10 = 300 minutes). Keep in mind that this calculation is dependent on a range of factors including applying enough (something many of us don't do) and reapplying. Reapplying after the recommended 2 hours does not extend your protection time; it only maintains the same level of protection for the same amount of time.

The SPF rating does not tell you how much protection you are getting against UVA rays (those responsible for skin aging). In North America, look for sunscreens that are labelled as “Broad Spectrum”, to ensure that you are being protected against both UVA and UVB rays.

Physical Vs. Chemical Sun Filters

Sun filtering agents can be divided into two main types - physical or chemical. Physical blocking agents sit on the skin's top layer and deflect UV rays while chemical sun filters work by absorbing UV rays and converting them to harmless energy.

Sunscreens may contain either one or a combination of both. While both types are effective, physical blocking agents such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide may be more suitable for individuals with sensitive skin. Shade SPF 30 is our newest Apothekari product and is formulated with zinc oxide along with antioxidants to deliver soothing, calming protection against UV rays.

In a recent blog post, we discussed the different sun filters on the market today along with any safety concerns associated with their use. Given the data available today, my preference is to use sunscreens containing zinc oxide, Mexoryl SX, Mexoryl XL and Tinosorb S or Tinosorb M. Our partner store stocks a wide range of formulations containing these newer, safe and effective ingredients.


How to Apply Sunscreen

In order to ensure you're getting the protection on the label, aim for one ounce of sunscreen (the size of a shot glass) for the entire body. About 1/4 teaspoon is enough for your face. It’s better to put on more than less so I like to wait a few minutes and then reapply to ensure that I cover spots I may have missed the first time around.

Don’t forget about areas including your lips, the part in your hair, ears, décolleté, back of the neck, under the chin, tops of the feet, hands, backs of the knees.

If you're applying other products, there is a rule of thumb. Whenever you layer treatments, apply from lightest in texture to heaviest in texture. So serums first, then lotions and creams. Sunscreen should be the last thing you put on before applying make-up.

How To Choose A Sunscreen

Selecting a sunscreen can seem daunting. While it's important to find one that contains safe and effective ingredients, it's just as important to make sure that you enjoy putting it on. Since a good sunscreen is the most important part of your skin care regimen, if you find one you like, it will be easier to use it every day.

Apothekari products are free from:

    • Parabens
    • Silicones
    • Phthalates
    • Synthetic colourants
    • Synthetic fragrances
    • Animal testing (Cruelty free)
    • Formaldehyde preservatives
    • SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) and SLES (sodium laureth sulfate)
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