Wearing sunscreen has been something we’ve been made to do since we were little kids building sandcastles on the beach. It’s pretty common knowledge these days that sun protection is a must and we have to stay vigilant about it. From everything from cancer risks to early aging and skin damage, we know the negative effects not using an SPF can have on our skin. We’ll dive into what SPF actually is, how sunscreen works and the best ways to safely enjoy the sunshine.
What Does Sunscreen Do and How Does It Protect Us?
There are two main categories of sunscreens out there, natural or mineral and chemical sunscreens. Also referred to as physical sunscreens natural or mineral sunscreens contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Sitting at the surface of your skin, these sunscreens reflect the UV light from the sun. Chemical sunscreens actually soak into your skin. The rays from the sun get absorbed before damage occurs. Dermatologists prefer physical sunscreens because they are safe for everyone, and work right away. This is the preferred sunscreen for babies as well. While some don’t enjoy its chalky feel or the white tone it can leave on your skin, it’s a lot more effective. Chemical sunscreens appear lighter and go on clear. You have to wait 15 to 30 minutes, however, for these to sink in and start protecting you. Chemical sunscreens may sound scary when described this way but they are regulated by the FDA. You should note that while the ingredients used are deemed safe, it’s a long process to ban an ingredient. Currently, there are 12 ingredients on the market used as UV filters. Zinc Oxide and titanium dioxide are considered the safest.