SPF: How it works
Does spf prevent me from getting my daily dose of vitamin D? Isn’t spf bad for the environment? Why do I need to wear sunscreen if I work indoors all day? These are all very common questions that we get from our clients. With so much information being released daily about skin care products, it’s hard to know what’s true and false about them, especially when it comes to sunscreens. So let’s break it down. This blog post is dedicated to answering all questions related to spf, and why our skin care specialists are always recommending that our clients use it daily.
First, we’ll go over the different types of sunscreens on the market. Arguably, knowing what is in your products is of the most important things to take into account when purchasing and using SPF in your skin care routine.
There are a couple of different formulas used in different SPF products; chemical and mineral. Both can usually be purchased from your local grocery store like Target or Meijer. The differences between these different formulas are fairly straight forward.
Chemical based sunscreens absorb into the top few layers of the skin, and work to dissipate the sun’s harmful UVB and UVA rays. The issues that a lot of skin care specialists have with chemical based sunscreens include the simple fact that we don’t typically know whether or not the chemicals used in these products are harmful to your overall health.
One of the most common ingredients found in chemical spf is oxybenzone. This chemical has been used in many sunscreen products over the years because of its undeniable ability to ward off the sun’s ultraviolet rays. However, oxybenzone has also been found to absorb deeper into the skin than what was originally thought, and traces of it have been found in the human bloodstream and, in some cases, breastmilk.
Oxybenzone has a few major concerns against it, but the most common is the notion that it has the potential to cause “endocrine disruption”, meaning that it interferes with the hormonal system. More specifically, researchers are concerned that it affects estrogen levels in the human body. This is why many pediatricians and doctors will often steer women who are nursing or are pregnant away from sunblocks that contain this chemical, as it may affect a fetus’s hormonal system.
This is a theory that has not been 100% proven yet, but the concerns continue to grow as more research is being conducted on this ingredient. If you’d like to read more about this ingredient and other chemicals found in chemical spf, The Washington Post has some great articles about this specific topic. We will leave the link at the bottom of this post for your reference!
Now let’s talk about mineral based sunscreens. These are often what Estheticians and Dermatologists will recommend that their clients use for spf rather than the latter option. Mineral sunscreens simply sit on top of the skin rather than absorb into it, creating a barrier between the sun’s UV rays and the epidermis. In a way, these products work to reflect UVA and UVB rays like a mirror on the skin.
The most common ingredients in mineral based sunscreens include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Both of these ingredients are naturally occurring, but can also be made synthetically.
Zinc Oxide has a few different benefits to the skin including sun protection and the treatment of acne. This ingredient also works well to treat rashes and irritation and provides anti-aging benefits. And, since zinc oxide occurs naturally, it is generally safe for the environment!
Titanium dioxide is one of the most common particles found in the Earth’s crust, and can also be found in most plants and animals. This ingredient absorbs UV rays, and provides a translucent barrier on top of the skin.
Now that we know the differences between formulas in sunscreens, we can now discuss why we recommend using spf indoors, outdoors, all day, every day. For those of you who receive our emails, we recently sent one out talking about UVA and UVB rays and the difference between the two. The short answer to that is as follows: UVB rays cause suntan and premature aging, and do not penetrate through glass or cloud cover. UVA rays are the direct cause of skin cancer and sunburn, and can penetrate through both glass and cloud cover.
When our clients come to us looking for products geared towards anti-aging and the overall health of their skin, spf is often the first thing we will recommend. Why? Because the sun’s UV rays are the number one contributor to premature aging and health concerns surrounding the skin!
As far as Vitamin D goes, Broad Spectrum spf does have the potential to block this essential vitamin from entering the body. However, studies have shown that very few people, if any, use enough sunscreen to truly affect the amount of Vitamin D that their body is receiving on the day to day. To really minimize your daily dose of Vitamin D, you would need to be applying spf to all exposed parts of your skin every hour of the day, even indoors.
Since we know Vitamin D is essential to our bodies, we usually recommend taking daily vitamins and supplements, especially during the winter months, just to keep your overall health in check.
Below, we will link a few sources where you will be able to read more about spf and how it works if you would like to, as well as a few recommendations for sunscreens that we enjoy using both in the treatment room and at home. We hope this information was helpful in answering some of your questions about using sun protection and why we recommend certain formulas over others, and, as always, if you have any more questions or concerns, we’re happy to help!
Stay safe, stay healthy, and we look forward to seeing you soon!
The Apsara Spa Team
Read More About SPF
Our Product Recommendations
Hale & Hush Broad Spectrum SPF 30
Jack Black Double Duty Facial Moisturizer
Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen
Suntegrity Unscented Natural Mineral Sunscreen
Jane Iredale Dream Tint Tinted Moisturizer
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