Understanding Sunscreen Labels

beautiful young woman with sun shape in sunscreenBy now you all have read our recent BLONDi post about Weekend Getaways. A little fun in the sun action is often what we crave, especially during the drearier months of the year that are ahead. Here at BLONDi, our clothing line is meant to make a woman feel ultra-flirty and fun, accentuating the feminine physique. But it also exposes skin to the harsh elements of sun. Studies are finding that a little burn can be cause long term damage, and not just a temporary irritation.  So, we need to be proactive about protecting our skin. Here is BLONDi’s quick guide to understanding Sunscreen.

Sunscreen helps to shield your skin from harmful Ultra Violet Radiation. These rays are responsible for skin damage, premature aging, and skin cancer. As a general rule of thumb:

  • UVA rays – cause aging (A for Aging). These damage collagen and elastin which contributes to the premature aging cycle. These penetrate through clouds on a rainy day and can still cause harm.
  • UVB rays – cause burns (B for burning) . This can give you a nice tanned glow, but over exposure can also lead to painful sunburn. Not as harmful as A rays, but the combination of the two is very dangerous.
  • UVC rays – newly labeled UVC rays cause cancer (C for cancer). The ozone layer is supposed to soak up all of these rays, but with the ozone layer depleting in certain parts of the world, especially where the sun is strongest, this is a growing concern.
  • SPF – this is you sun protection factor. The number on Sunscreen bottles usually only measures the protection against UVB rays. The number on the label indicates your maximum exposure time before burning.  In theory, you can use this equation:

SPF number x 10 = maximum sun exposure time in minutes

So, If the label reads an SPF of  30 then 30 x 10 = 300 minutes. An SPF of 30 will offer you 300 minutes of protection. The problem, however, is that most people do not use enough sunscreen to offer this type of protection. So a good guideline to follow is re-applying sunscreen every 2 hours. The minimum daily recommendation is 15 which protects 94% of UVB rays. SPF 30 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays. And even though there are now Sunscreens that boas an SPF of 100, the additional protection of an SPF above 50 is marginal. That is something to think about.

  • PA+ – this is your UVA defense and you will find this on sunscreens that provide Broad Spectrum protection.
  • Physical Sunscreen – acts like a force field. It deflects the harmful rays and bounces them off of your skin. Common ingredients in Physical Sunscreen include: Titatium Dioxide and Zinc Dioxide. They often leave a white cast on the skin and will often be marketed as SUNBLOCK. These are better for sensitive skin.
  • Chemical Sunscreen – acts like a sponge. These types of sunscreens absorb all of the bad rays and do not allow them to penetrate your skin. Common Ingredients: Octylcrylene, Avobenzone, Octinoxate, Octisalate, Oxybenzone, Homosalate, Helioplex, 4-MBC, Mexoryl SX and XL, Tinosorb S and M, Uvinul T 150, Uvinul A Plus.  The jury is still out on some of these ingredients though. Some can be hormone disrupters and carcinogenic. Not ideal for sensitive skin, but it does tend to provide more UVA protection.

Make sure you are choosing a sunscreen that provides both UVA and UVB protection.

The fairer the skin, the higher your SPF should be and the more frequently you should re-apply.

So that’s it BLONDi Friends! I hope this guide was helpful. You can now dawn that dress; make a habit out of that halter confident in your sunscreen of choice. Which sunscreen do you prefer and why? Let us know in the comments below. Have fun and stay sun safe!

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