Ask the Expert: SPF 15 Meaning

Sunkissed skin is the greatest glow-up one can have during the Summer, but no one wants to be next season’s leathery bag. SPF 15 is the go-to year-round, but is it enough? With high temperatures, this summer, make sure you know how much SPF is enough to protect that supple skin of yours.

SPF 15 Meaning:
We all know about the dangers of skin cancer but many overlook skin aging as the first step to that problem. “The sun is responsible for 90% of our fine lines, wrinkles, and photoaging. The most important thing that anyone can do who is looking to age gracefully is to wear sunscreen every single day,” suggests Noreen, a board-certified dermatologist from Galaria Plastic Surgery & Dermatology. Not wearing SPF daily breaks down the skin’s natural anti-aging processes, leading your skin to show damage and making you look older. But why does SPF matter? SPF, short for sun protection factor, helps to block your skin from the sun’s radiation, and as we know the sun emits two types of radiation: UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays contribute to the signs of aging in the skin while UVB rays are more carcinogenic and often responsible for sunburns—when combined the two can be deadly as UVA makes UVB rays more reactive. And while you’re thinking “well I’m inside all day working from home” don’t overlook the fact that we’re exposed to harmful radiation from the sun virtually anytime, especially near a window that has sunshine.

Related articles: Chemical vs Physical Sunscreen

What Level Of SPF Do I Need?
Dermatologists suggest creating a habit of using SPF daily to avoid skin damage year-round. During the Summer one should use SPF 30 or more especially if you’re spending time outside. It is also important to limit sun exposure during peak hours of sunlight. “Sunblock in your makeup may not be strong enough for your skin type,” says Board-Certified Dermatologist and founder of Uptown Dermatology, Dr. Elizabeth Mullans. Those who are fair-skinned shouldn’t rely on SPF 15, let alone makeup products with SPF, as they are prone to burning faster and “will need a higher SPF like a 40 and 50.” Although darker complexions do not sunburn as easily as pale skin, they are still vulnerable to skin damage from the sun and should use SPF 15-30. According to the American Cancer Society, one should focus on three areas when using SPF; “broad spectrum” protection, SPF 30 or higher, and water resistance. Choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen means your sunscreen will block out both UVA and UVB rays.

Find SPF For Your Skin:
Many of you have said the reason for not wearing sunscreen is the dislike of its fragrance or stickiness, no more excuses! There are a variety of sunscreens available to meet different skin typesyou can take our skin type quiz here. Whether you’re prone to acne, have oily, dry, or combination skin you can find so many selections. As a POC I know the struggle of finding the right sunscreen. I go from zero to seven shades darker once the weather rises and it is frustrating when my SPF starts leaving a white cast. We usually see this problem in mineral-based sunscreens as many require a few rubs before becoming sheer. Luckily many brands are focusing on the diversity of our skin tones while taking part in providing us with clean, sustainable products.

One of my favorites to use is Supergoop! PLAY Everyday SPF 50 Sunscreen & Superscreen Daily Moisturizer in SPF 40, which goes on clean, and comes with an added benefit of blue light protection, perfect as a multi-use anti-aging technique. For all my melanin beauties, Black Girl SPF 30 Sunscreen is a great sunscreen specially made for rich and darker complexions that goes on smoothly leaving no cast whatsoever, and doubles as a moisturizing lotion. For my fair-skinned ladies, La Roche-Posay Melt-in Milk 100 SPF sunscreen offers UV protection for sun-sensitive and skin prone to burning, perfect for avoiding those nasty burns. Make sure you do your part for the environment and go clean! AnaK Instant Glow Sunscreen SPF 40 offers a clean and organic alternative perfect for partaking in a sustainable lifestyle.

It’s so easy to forget to reapply, one slap of sunscreen and it’s easy to think you’re good to go for the day. Natural factors like sweating and going in water will easily wipe off that coat of sunscreen. Even on rainy cloudy days, the rays are still going strong. Just last weekend, I made the mistake of not reapplying and found myself sunburnt after two hours camping under strong winds and heavy clouds.

No one likes rubbing aloe Vera on peeling skin! Know when you need to reapply. Sunscreen lasts an average of two hours. That means you should plan to reapply every so often. If you sweat a lot, notice your skin burning, or spend time in the water, you’ll want to reapply more frequently” says Dr. Alan J. Park, founder of DermWarehouse. Sunscreen usually rubs off when you towel yourself dry, and so you will need to reapply then as well. It’s important to remember that “water-resistant” does not mean “waterproof.” No sunscreens are “sweatproof” either.

Don’t Forget The Most Commonly Missed Areas:
Ears, lips, around the eyes, and even your scalp. Yes, your scalp, just dab a bit where your hair parts. All these areas are sensitive and prone to burning easily. Your lips might not seem important but the skin on the lip is extremely delicate and compared to other parts—like the hands for example—are keener to get burned and dry easily. Several brands are now manufacturing lip balms with SPF up to 30. Dr. Mullans suggested two great products for those commonly overlooked areas: Mad Rabbit Defend – SPF 30, designed specifically for tattoo and skin protection, and SuperGoop! Poof 100% Mineral Part Powder SPF 35.

Create the habit of applying SPF daily in the morning and you’ll be on your way to developing healthier habits for your skin. Whether you’re running errands, hitting the pool, or taking a short drive make sure your skin is protected. And avoid those tanning beds and sunlamps, there are so many great sunless alternatives available, there is no need for all that ultraviolet damage! Stay hydrated, glow on, and SPF.

Written by Kimberly Perez
Photo of Yosmi Trinidad for Clean Beauty by AnaK

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