F.A.Q. about sunscreen
Why is sunscreen important?
Sunscreen is important because it helps protect the skin from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer. UV rays can also cause sunburn, premature aging, and other skin problems. Wearing sunscreen can help prevent these negative effects and reduce the risk of skin cancer.
What’s a good skincare routine in the sun?
A good skincare routine in the sun includes the following steps:
- Cleanse your skin: Start by cleansing your face with a gentle face wash or cleanser to remove dirt, oil, and makeup.
- Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before going outside. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and make sure to apply it to all exposed skin, paying special attention to the face, ears, lips, tops of your feet and scalp. Reapply every 2 hours or more frequently if you are sweating or swimming.
- Wear protective clothing: Wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your skin from direct sun exposure.
- Seek shade: Try to avoid being in direct sunlight during the peak sun hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- After sun care: After sun exposure, cleanse your skin again and apply moisturizer to rehydrate your skin. Also, consider using aloe vera gel to soothe sunburned skin.
- Examine skin: Regularly examine your skin for any changes, such as new moles or changes in existing moles, and see a dermatologist if you notice anything unusual.
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, it is a measure of how well a sunscreen will protect your skin from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. Sunscreen with a higher SPF number will provide more protection than a sunscreen with a lower SPF number. For example, an SPF 15 sunscreen will filter out about 93% of UVB rays, while an SPF 30 sunscreen will filter out about 97% of UVB rays, and an SPF 50 sunscreen will filter out about 98% of UVB rays.
It is important to note that no sunscreen can block 100% of UV rays and that higher SPF does not mean longer protection time. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours or more frequently if you are sweating or swimming.
It is also important to understand that SPF only measures the protection against UVB rays, which are the main cause of sunburn and skin cancer, UVA rays are responsible for aging and wrinkles but a lot of sunscreens only protect against UVB rays. To ensure comprehensive protection, look for the term "broad spectrum" on the sunscreen label to know that it also protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
Another thing to consider is that many people don’t use enough sunscreen. On average individuals apply 20% to 50% of the amount of sunscreen needed to achieve the level of SPF mentioned on the label. As a rule of thumb dermatologists advice on applying the equivalent of a shot glass or two tablespoons to the exposed areas of the face and body. To compensate a little bit for under-application it can be a good idea to use a higher SPF sunscreen.
What are good and bad ingredients for sunscreen?
The safety of some sunscreen ingredients is being challenged and needs more research. For now, we at sunscreen studio stay away from products containing Oxybenzone & Octinoxate, but we adjust our collection on the outcomes of future research and EU regulations.
It is also important to note that some ingredients may be considered "bad" for some people, but not for others. It's best to patch test the product on a small area before using it on large areas of skin and to consult a dermatologist if you have any concerns.
It’s always important to read the label and check the list of ingredients.
It is worth noting that a mineral-based sunscreen based on ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are considered to be more natural and less likely to cause skin irritation, and also less likely to harm the environment, such as coral reefs.
Who needs sunscreen?
Sunscreen is recommended for everyone, regardless of skin color, age, or gender. The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer, so it's important to protect your skin from the sun's rays. Everyone should use sunscreen as part of their daily skincare routine.
It is particularly important to apply sunscreen to children, as children's skin is more delicate and sensitive than adult skin, and they have a greater lifetime exposure to the sun. Broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher should be applied to babies and children of 6 months and older.
Try to keep babies under 6 months old from direct sun exposure. If possible, sunscreen use should be avoided in babies younger than 6 months.
It is also important to note that even on cloudy days, UV rays can still penetrate the clouds and cause skin damage, so it's important to use sunscreen on cloudy days as well as sunny days.
What sunscreen should I use?
When choosing a sunscreen, it's important to look for one that provides broad-spectrum protection, meaning it protects against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.
It's also important to choose a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30.
Here are a few types of sunscreen that you may consider:
- Mineral sunscreens: These sunscreens use minerals like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as active ingredients. They sit on top of the skin and physically block UV rays. They are considered to be safe and effective, and less likely to cause skin irritation or allergies.
- Chemical sunscreens: These sunscreens use chemicals like avobenzone, oxybenzone, homosalate or octinoxate as active ingredients. These ingredients work like a sponge and absorb the sun’s rays. Sunscreens using these formulations tend to be easier to rub into the skin without leaving a white “cast”. Some people may find them to be irritating or allergenic.
- Sunscreen lotion: This type of sunscreen is easy to apply and can be spread evenly on the skin. It is also easy to pack and carry.
- Sunscreen sprays: These are easy to apply, especially to hard-to-reach areas like the back, but be careful not to inhale the mist and make sure to apply evenly and everywhere.
- Sunscreen sticks: These are handy for applying sunscreen to the face and ears, and they are easy to pack and carry.
Ultimately, the best sunscreen is the one that you will use regularly and correctly. Choose a sunscreen that you like the feel of, and that you will be comfortable using every day.
It is also important to remember that no sunscreen can block 100% of UV rays and that sunscreen needs to be reapplied every 2 hours or more frequently if you are sweating or swimming.
When should I use sunscreen?
Sunscreen should be used daily, year-round, as part of your daily skincare routine. The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer, even on cloudy days or in the winter.
It is particularly important to use sunscreen when you will be spending extended periods of time outdoors, such as during activities like hiking, surfing, climbing and snowboarding. If you are going to be at high altitude or near reflective surfaces like snow, water or sand, the sun's rays are stronger and more intense, so you should use a higher SPF and apply sunscreen more frequently.
It is also important to apply sunscreen before going outside, even on overcast days, as UV rays can penetrate clouds. It takes about 15 minutes for sunscreen to absorb into the skin, so it's best to apply it at least 15 minutes before going outside.
And again, it is important to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or more frequently if you are sweating or swimming. Always check the expiration date of your sunscreen and discard it if it has expired, as the effectiveness of sunscreen can decrease over time.
How much sunscreen should I use, and how often should I apply it?
It is recommended to use about 25 to 30 grams (or about a shot glass full or let’s say two tablespoons) of sunscreen for an adult, to cover all exposed skin. This amount should be adjusted for children.
It is important to apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, including the face, ears, scalp, neck, arms, tops of the feet, legs, and hands. Don't forget to also apply sunscreen to the lips, as the skin on the lips is thin and delicate, and can easily burn.
Sunscreen should be applied 15 minutes before going outside, and then reapplied every 2 hours or more frequently if you are sweating or swimming. It is also important to note that even if you are wearing clothing or a hat, you should still apply sunscreen to any exposed skin, as UV rays can penetrate through fabrics.
Keep in mind that no sunscreen can block 100% of UV rays and that even with sunscreen, you should try to limit your sun exposure, especially during the peak sun hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Seeking shade, wearing protective clothing and staying indoors can also help reduce your UV exposure.
Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays. What is the difference between the rays?
UVA and UVB rays are types of ultraviolet radiation that come from the sun. They both can cause skin cancer, but they have different characteristics and effects on the skin:
- UVA rays: They are responsible for tanning and aging of the skin. They can also penetrate glass, so they can reach you even when you're inside a car or building.
- UVB rays: These rays are the main cause of sunburn. They are blocked by window glass, so they are less intense indoors.
Both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin damage, so it's important to protect your skin from both types of rays. Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays, so they provide more comprehensive protection than sunscreens that only protect against UVB rays.
It is important to note that SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, only measures the protection against UVB rays, so it is important to look for "broad-spectrum" on the sunscreen label to ensure that the sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
What is the difference between chemical and physical (or mineral) sunscreens?
Chemical sunscreens and physical sunscreens are two different types of sunscreen that use different active ingredients to protect the skin from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays.
- Chemical sunscreens: These sunscreens contain active ingredients such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, octinoxate, and others. These ingredients are absorbed into the skin and work by converting UV rays into heat, which is then released from the skin. Chemical sunscreens typically take about 15 to 20 minutes to fully absorb into the skin and start working. They can be easier to apply and rub in compared to physical (or natural) sunscreens.
- Physical sunscreens (or Mineral sunscreens): These sunscreens contain active ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These minerals sit on top of the skin and physically block the sun's rays, protecting the skin from UV damage. Physical sunscreens start working as soon as they are applied, they are also considered to be more natural and less likely to cause skin irritation or allergies, but they can be thicker and harder to rub in, leaving a white cast.
Both types of sunscreens can be effective at protecting the skin from UV rays, but physical sunscreens tend to be more stable in sunlight and less likely to cause skin irritation. It is important to choose a sunscreen that you like the feel of, and that you will be comfortable using every day.
Is a high-number SPF better than a low-number one?
A higher SPF number generally means that a sunscreen will provide more protection against the sun's ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which are the primary cause of sunburn. However, it is important to note that a higher SPF does not necessarily mean that the sunscreen provides more protection against ultraviolet A (UVA) rays, which are responsible for aging, wrinkles and skin cancer. To ensure comprehensive protection, it's important to look for a "broad-spectrum" sunscreen, which will protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
It is also important to note that no sunscreen can block 100% of UV rays and that a higher SPF does not mean longer protection time. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours or more frequently if you are sweating or swimming.
The American Academy of Dermatology and most dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. An SPF 30 sunscreen filters out about 97% of UVB rays, while an SPF 50 sunscreen filters out about 98% of UVB rays. So, it is also important to note that the difference in protection between high SPF numbers such as 50+ and 30 is not as significant as many people think. It is more important to use enough of the product, apply it correctly and reapply it as recommended.
How can I protect my baby or toddler from the sun?
Protecting babies and toddlers from the sun is important, as their skin is more delicate and sensitive than adult skin, and they have a greater lifetime exposure to the sun. Here are a few tips for protecting your baby or toddler from the sun:
- Keep your baby in the shade: Try to keep your baby or toddler in the shade as much as possible, especially during the peak sun hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Use a stroller canopy or a sun umbrella to shield your baby from the sun.
- Dress your baby in protective clothing: Dress your baby or toddler in lightweight, loose-fitting clothes that cover the arms and legs, and a wide-brimmed hat that shades the face and neck.
- Use sunscreen: Sunscreen should be applied to babies 6 months and older, but always protect babies under 6 months old from direct sun exposure. Use a mineral-based sunscreen, such as one that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, that has an SPF of at least 30, and is labeled as "broad-spectrum" to protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
- Be aware of the heat: Be aware of the heat and humidity, as babies and toddlers can get overheated quickly. Dress them in lightweight, breathable clothes, and make sure they stay hydrated.
- Avoid sunbathing: Avoid sunbathing babies and young children, as their skin is more sensitive to UV radiation.
- Use caution with windows: UV rays can penetrate windows, so be aware that your baby or toddler may still be exposed to UV rays even when inside a car or building.
It is important to remember that no sunscreen can block 100% of UV rays, and that sunscreen needs to be reapplied every 2 hours or more frequently if the baby or toddler is sweating or swimming. It is also important to be vigilant and check for signs of sunburn, such as redness and tenderness.
Can I use the sunscreen I bought last summer, or do I need to purchase a new bottle each year? Does it lose its strength?
First things first; as dermatologists recommend using sunscreen on all skin not covered by clothing, every day when you are outside, even the cloudy ones, and not just on sunny days during the summer: a bottle should not last that long.
Sunscreen should not lose its strength over a year’s time, but it can lose its effectiveness if it is not stored properly. Exposure to heat, light, and air can cause the active ingredients in sunscreen to break down. If you have stored your sunscreen in a cool, dark place and it is still within its expiration date, it should be effective.
However, if it has been exposed to heat or light, or if it is past its expiration date, it is best to purchase a new bottle.
Will using sunscreen limit the amount of vitamin D I get?
Sunscreen can limit the amount of vitamin D that your body produces, as the active ingredients in sunscreen block UVB rays, which are necessary for the body to produce vitamin D.
However, it's important to note that excessive sun exposure can increase the risk of skin cancer and other skin damage, so it's recommended to use sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
Additionally, the body can also get Vitamin D from a healthy diet that includes foods naturally rich in vitamin D. If you’re concerned that your vitamin D levels might be low it’s important to talk to your doctor. You may need to supplement your diet with vitamin D.
Are sunscreens safe?
Sunscreens are generally considered safe for most people to use. They have been extensively tested and have been shown to be effective in protecting the skin from harmful UV rays. However, like any product, there is a small chance of an allergic reaction or skin irritation for some people. It's always a good idea to patch test a sunscreen before applying it to a large area of skin.
Additionally, there have been some concerns about the safety of certain chemicals that are used in some sunscreens, such as oxybenzone, which has been shown to have potential negative effects on human health.
We advise to choose a sunscreen that is free from such chemicals and that is also water resistant and have a broad-spectrum protection (UVA and UVB). But please do your own research.
The EU Cosmetics Regulation regulates sunscreens in the EU and only sunscreens that pass their safety and efficacy standards will be considered safe for use.
It's also important to remember that sunscreen should be used in combination with other sun protection measures such as wearing protective clothing, seeking shade during peak sun hours, and avoiding indoor tanning.
How do I treat a sunburn?
Treatment for sunburn includes the following steps:
- Cool the skin: Take frequent cool baths or showers. You can also apply a cool compress to the sunburned area.
- Moisturize: Apply a moisturizer that contains aloe vera or soy to help soothe the skin, ease the dryness and reduce inflammation.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever if necessary: Ibuprofen or aspirin can help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to help your skin recover.
- Avoid further sun exposure: Stay out of the sun until your sunburn has healed to avoid further damage to your skin.
- Be careful with your skin: Avoid picking or peeling the skin as it can lead to infection, also avoid using products that contain alcohol or fragrances as they can dry out and irritate the skin.
If your sunburn is severe, blisters, or causes fever, chills, nausea, or dizziness, you should seek medical attention.
It's also important to remember to protect your skin from sunburn in the future by using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, seeking shade during peak sun hours, and avoiding indoor tanning.
What’s the environmental impact of sunscreens?
The use of sunscreens can have a significant impact on the environment, particularly in marine ecosystems. Some of the chemicals used in sunscreens, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, can be harmful to coral reefs and other marine life. These chemicals can cause coral bleaching and damage to coral DNA, which can lead to reduced coral growth and reproduction. Additionally, these chemicals can also harm other marine animals such as fish and sea turtles. Therefore, sunscreen can also be a major source of pollution in coastal areas, as the chemicals from sunscreens can wash off of swimmers' skin and into the ocean.
It is important to choose a sunscreen that is free of these harmful chemicals, and to be mindful of the potential environmental impact of sunscreen use.