SPF: UPDATED INFO FOR THE SUMMER
I took a class early in my esthetics journey, and it really changed the way I view my job as an esthetician. Sure, people like me are in the business of making people look and feel good, therefore we do not get much respect when it comes to our actual knowledge about skincare. However, there is a lot of science and research that goes into creating beauty products, and I know that anyone in this profession who is passionate about what they do, reads every article they can get their hands on. In other words, estheticians do have brains!
I found an article from Rebecca Gadberry, who used to teach at UCLA, and is (in my opinion), the guru of chemistry and skincare. She is all-knowing when it comes to ingredients, and recently published an article updating information on sunscreens and SPF. These are 5 of the updates she mentioned:
- UVA is the "primary contributer to aging and malignant melanoma." SPF does not take into account how much your skin is protected from UVA, but rather UVB (burning) rays. There is no other measurement as of now, that gives consumers a good idea of how much protection they are actually getting, other than the SPF number that is printed on the bottle. Gadberry suggests that to be safe, choose an SPF between 30-50 to get the most protection from UVA rays.
- Sunburn is never good. "Redness is not a sign to reapply sunscreen, but rather to get out of the sun." She goes on to say that you will not get more protection by applying SPF to already burned skin. Once the burn has begun, it's time to go inside!
- The word "Sunblock" is now recognized as misleading, since researchers have discovered that no product on the market physically blocks out the sun's rays completely.
- High Energy Visible Light, or HEV light is being studied more and more. Also known as Near UVA or nUVA, this is high frequency blue or violet light located immediately above UVA wavelengths. Some damaging effects of HEV light include: pigmentation, redness, and inflammation. Major contributors of HEV light are computer screens, TVs, mobile devices, including smart phones and tablets, and many reflective surfaces, such as windows. Since we are in the "tech" age, it is only natural that scientific research is being done on the damaging effects of this type of light. Another concern is infrared heat, which "cooks" cells and tissues, including collagen and elastin in your skin (which keeps your skin plump and youthful-looking). Infrared heat comes from the sun, but you can also be exposed to it by using hair dryers, ovens, heaters, cooking ranges, saunas, and LEDs. Two ingredients known to screen both HEV and infrared are non-micronized titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. However, since they are non-micronized, they will leave your face/skin completely white. So I guess you have to choose--age and damage your skin or look like a mime. (Please, somebody, create a sheer product with these ingredients)!
- Finally, the last update is SPF in non-sunscreens. For example, many of my clients say, "Oh, my makeup has SPF fifteen," or "I think my moisturizer has SPF in it." Well, I hate to break it to you--this is not enough! I quote: "According to an FDA insider, to get SPF 15, you would need to wear seven times the amount of foundation most people wear." You would also need to wear more moisturizer than everyone normally puts on their skin to get SPF 15. Also, if you use mineral makeup that claims to have SPF, you need to add an actual sunscreen, because as of 2012, those companies who manufacture those powders are not allowed to make SPF claims.
After reading this, I kind of thought I should just stay in my house, but then I realized I would be on my computer or phone, so I'm really not safe anywhere. My best advice is to protect yourself as much as possible, and start educating your kids about the importance of SPF! Oh, and definitely go out and get yourself a face-safe SPF! I go for the higher-end SPF products, because I want to stay away from potentially toxic ingredients. Plus, my son's skin is highly sensitive to sunscreens, and many of the brands I have tried have caused him to break out into a rash and get visibly irritated skin.
Source: "THEN & NOW: Sunscreens: Proceed With Caution," by Rebecca Gadberry.