So, here’s a fun fact for you: You might have heard (even from your dermatologist) that SPF 30 is all you need. Well, guess what… that’s not entirely true. Surprised? Didn’t think so.
While SPF 30 blocks 96% of the UV light, SPF 50 would block 98%. You might think that’s a small difference, but in the way sunblock is measured, that’s actually 50% more! Meaning, the higher the SPF the better! I know you’re dying for more facts like this so here is the 411 on sunblock:
- Why wear SPF? First and foremost you need to protect yourself from cancer. Deadly melanoma is on the rise every year! It can also significantly slow down the aging process, especially when it comes to UVA lights which can penetrate deep into your skin and cause wrinkles and hard to reverse sun damage. Always go for broad-spectrum sunblocks which can block UVA and UVB lights. Who knows, you might even be able to use less botox in the future *wink*.
- How does sunscreen actually work? Okay, let’s get a little scientific now. All ingredients in sunscreen work the same way - they form a film that absorbs UV light and turns that into heat which is then dispersed. Amazing, right?
- When to apply sunblock in your skincare routine? Sunblock should be the last product you apply! Apply your serum and moisturizer first. The best time to apply sunscreen is once all the other products on your skin have already dried. This makes it easier to apply an even layer for optimal protection. Remember, we want to make sure to keep that face glowing WITHOUT sunburn.
- Is sunblock in my moisturizer and makeup enough? 100% NO. While it might seem easier to just throw on your makeup that has SPF in it already, it’s best to have a moisturizer and foundation without SPF and use your SPF separately. Another fun fact coming your way! Did you know that combining SPF’s can actually destabilize each other? Yup. So if you have sunblock in your makeup you should really match those ingredients with your regular sunblock and make sure to keep all your products in their own lane. Or just follow my lead and go with an SPF-less foundation… please.
- Should I wear my sunblock indoors? Well, that depends. If you have a lot of natural light coming through your windows, it can still damage your skin. I would say that if you are living in a sunny place like California and your windows are letting light in then ABSOLUTELY YES! However, there are many other factors to consider, like how clogged is your skin from all the sunblock you have been applying? As an esthetician, I see more clogged skin from sunblock than by far any other product! Of course, there are other alternatives to sunblock like SPF hats, clothing, and shields - these are my personal favorites when possible because they don’t clog your pores and they are more reliable for sun protection. Oftentimes, we do not apply enough (and not evenly enough) sunblock and it shows on your skin. Sometimes, we even forget to apply at all - guilty... So a combination of both sunscreen and sun-protective clothing is the best practice.
- What about Vitamin D? Make sure you take enough supplements and get your Vitamin D levels checked every 6 months, especially if you don't live in a sunny climate and never wear sunglasses!
Now... The most important step when choosing your next sunblock is to choose the RIGHT sunblock for your skin type. While sunblock is super important, ingredients that are in some formulas are not particularly friendly for your skin (except for maybe Zinc). For example: If your sunblock contains anything over 3% Avobenzone, someone who is sensitive to sunblock, like me, will not be able to wear it - as it would cause itching and irritation. Also, sunblock that has that specific iridescent look can often cause breakouts and congestion - stay away from them if possible.
A quick PSA: Your inexperienced dermatologist or esthetician might have told you "don't worry about it, just apply some sunblock". Did I mention INEXPERIENCED? Don't listen to them.
If you are oily, congested, or have sensitive skin: stick to more physical sunblocks (the ones that contain Zinc).
If you're not sensitive: just use whatever you like and have fun with it.