Sunscreen: How are you Choosing and Using?

skin careSunscreen is important topic any time of year. However, with summer now here, we can think of no better time to assess how we choose and use the products that protect our complexion and the health of our skin.

How Well do you Know your Sunscreen?
When choosing sunscreen, what most of us tend to look at is SPF. The sun protection factor of sunscreen is important, but it does not encompass the total protective capabilities of a product. SPF was developed as a method of measuring the percentage of light that is filtered by product. Another aspect of SPF is the longevity of its protective efficacy. For instance, it would presumably take 30 times longer for your skin to burn if you apply SPF 30 sunscreen. It would presumably take 15 times longer for your skin to burn when coated with SPF 15 sunscreen. While SPF is a significant characteristic of sunscreen, other factors come into play. These include your baseline SPF, which your skin naturally has, and also the environmental factors surrounding your time outdoors. Regardless of the SPF sunscreen, its efficiency can be diminished by water and sweat. For this reason, dermatologists encourage patients to reapply sunscreen every 2 to 3 hours during times of extended UV exposure.

It's Not all About SPF
At the time when SPF was developed, the primary goal was to measure UVB protection. Today, we realize that the sun's UVA radiation can be extremely damaging to the skin. UVA light that penetrates the skin affects the mechanical function of cells beneath the surface. Over time changes to the DNA of the cells translates into premature aging, such as fine lines and wrinkles, sunspots, and tough, leathery skin.

Protection from UVA radiation is not measured by SPF. It is, however, indicated by the term "broad-spectrum". This means that a broad spectrum sunscreen is the only type of sunscreen that offers UVA protection.

Your dermatologist is a wonderful resource to help you understand how to choose and use sunscreen for maximum protection. In our office, we also offer complexion analysis using the latest technology. Give us a call to schedule your consultation with Dr. Citron.

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