by Jane Iredale, President & Founder of Iredale Mineral Cosmetics
The temperature’s rising; the days are longer; the clothes are fewer — here comes summer, and here comes the sun! Most of us have been waiting impatiently to feel the warmth on our skin, but along with the warmth come invisible rays that age our skin faster than anything else you can think of, namely ultraviolet A and B. So what is the most effective anti-aging product you can wear? Sunscreen! Make it a year-round beauty staple but be even more devoted to it in the summer months.
Sunscreen comes in all shapes and sizes and only one of its purposes is to protect us from burning. It has a lot of other benefits, too. If worn and applied correctly, sunscreen can prevent wrinkles, brown spots, damage to elastin and Collagen (the skin’s mattress), Actinic Keratosis (those pesky dry lumps that never go away), Basal Cell and Squamous Cell Carcinomas and the most deadly of all, Melanoma.
But what is the best sunscreen for you when there is so much to choose from? First of all, let’s look at the language of sunscreens. What does SPF (Sun Protection Factor) really mean? SPF measures the amount of protection you get from UVB rays only. These are the shorter rays that penetrate the top layer of the skin and cause it to burn or tan. (A tan is the sign of a body’s protection response after the damage has been done.) The number that you see following SPF is a personal indication of how long you can stay in the sun before your skin will begin to burn. In other words, it’s a multiple of the SPF number. If it takes ten minutes for you to burn and you’re applying an SPF 10, you will burn in 10 x 10 minutes – one hundred minutes as opposed to ten. Remember, that you must apply properly and frequently to get the optimal result. Most people apply too little sunscreen to get this kind of protection.
Does this mean that you should look for the highest SPF you can find because an SPF 30 doubles the protection of an SPF 15? I wish it were that simple. It doesn’t mean that at all. In fact, an SPF 15 already protects from 93% of the UVB spectrum. An SPF 30 only increases protection by 4% and an SPF 50 by 5%. There is no such thing as 100% protection. So sometimes, you will want to weigh the percentage of increased protection you get against the amount of extra chemicals that have to be put in the formula in order to reach the higher SPF – chemicals that are designed to be absorbed into the skin, the body’s largest organ.
If UVB is the burning ray, what is UVA? Well, that’s the aging ray. This is the ray that goes deeper into the skin and damages our DNA leading to wrinkles and skin cancers. Until recently, sunscreens were not required to protect from UVA damage, now they are. Look for the words “broad spectrum.” This means that your sunscreen will give you protection from both forms of ultraviolet rays. It’s easy to remember which is which. UVA = aging ray and UVB = burning ray.
What’s the difference between chemical and physical sunscreens? Chemical sunscreens absorb the UV rays and change them into something else – usually heat. So they create heat on the skin, which equates to inflammation. Prolonged inflammation creates premature aging – not an ideal skin situation. In extreme cases, you can actually get a heat burn from chemical sunscreens. Common chemical sunscreen ingredients are: Oxybenzone, Avobenzone, Actisalate and Octinoxate. Physical sunscreens are particles that stay on the top of the skin acting like hundreds of thousands of tiny mirrors reflecting and refracting the sun’s rays. There are only two ingredients that do this, Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. Both of them give broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection with water resistance. Both of them help to calm redness and irritation.
When choosing the correct sunscreen it is also important to know if it is approved by The Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF). The SCF guarantees that a sunscreen product meets the highest standards for safety and effectiveness. The SCF Seal of Recommendation is granted to sun protection products that have been reviewed and meet the specific criteria of an independent photobiology committee. The seal is a symbol of safe and effective sun protection that is recognized worldwide.
jane iredale has seven physical sunscreen products that have earned The Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Approval: PurePressed® Base Mineral Foundation SPF 20, Amazing Base® Loose Mineral Powder SPF 20, Dream Tint® Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15, Glow Time® Full Coverage Mineral BB Cream SPF 25, Powder-Me SPF® Dry Sunscreen SPF 30, LipDrink® Lip Balm SPF 15 and HandDrink™ Hand Cream SPF 15. Flaunt your beautiful skin and stay protected!