Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Essentials of Sun Protection

Nobody likes getting a sunburn. Red, itchy, supremely irritated skin is never fun, and isn’t very good for your skin or your overall health, either. It's pretty well-known, then, that good skincare generally includes avoiding sunburns at all costs. If you already knew that and already practice that philosophy, you're off to a great start.

But here's the thing: just avoiding getting a bright red sunburn isn't enough. The sun can damage your skin on an imperceptible level even when you don't see any immediate signs of it, and small bursts of damage like that do add up overtime, which is why vine Vera is about to fill you in on the absolute essentials of sun-care that you need to know.

Broad-Spectrum, Please
Ultraviolet radiation is the part of sunlight that causes the most damage, and sun-protection works to block it. The thing is, there are two types of ultraviolet (UV) light that need to be blocked: UVA and UVB. You need to block both of these to stay safe, so look for a product that says “broad-spectrum,” as this indicates that both wavelengths are covered.

SPF 30 or Bust
Or, to be more precise, SPF 30 or higher. Sun-protective products are rated on a scale called “SPF” for “sun protection factor.” The minimum rating you need to ensure you prevent damage from the sun is SPF 30.

Note that SPF in multiple products does not “stack.” If you layer two products that each have SPF 15, your overall protection will only be SPF 15, not both of them added together (30). You need a single product that contains SPF 30 or higher.

Don't Forget the Lips and Hair
Two areas that we often forget to apply sunscreen to, but which actually need it just as much as the rest, are the lips and the hair. For your lips, just grab an SPF 30 or higher lip balm (they do exist) and reapply that every couple hours. For the head, you want to massage sunscreen into the exposed part of the scalp; do your best to keep it confined to the exposed scalp, and avoid getting your hair too greasy. For the hair itself, you don't have to do anything, although if you have especially dry hair, or if you're worried about your hair's color being bleached out by the sun, you can invest in a protective hair veil, which is simply a product in a spray bottle, which you mist on your hair to provide protection against the brittleness and bleachign the sun can sometimes cause.

Physical Vs. Chemical
There are two basic types of sun-protection ingredients on the market currently, chemical sunscreens and physical sunblocks. Chemical sunscreens prevent UV rays from hitting your face by absorbing them in a chemical reaction, whereas physical sunblocks simply bounce the rays off your face completely.

Either will work, but physical sunblocks have a few advantages: they can be applied at the end of your skincare routine, whereas chemical sunscreens have to be applied first, they are less likely to irritate sensitive or allergic skin, and they're more durable; while you should still reapply every couple hours, if you forget with physical sunblock, it's not as big a deal, because they don't break down overtime. To get a physical sunblock, just find an SPF containing product that uses the active ingredient(s) zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.