SPF 101

For all your beauty advice…

Even though we should be wearing an SPF on our face all year-round, this time of year we need to step it up and make sure we are protected even more than we are on a daily basis. Shopping for an SPF can be frustrating and a little overwhelming because there are so many out there. What do all the numbers mean? Why do some feel like a regular moisturizer and why do some feel sticky and leave the skin feeling coated and oily? Do we need different levels of SPF depending on our lifestyle, age, or even sex? Hmmm…that’s a lot of info to learn when all you want to do is protect your skin from the sun’s harsh rays.

What do the numbers mean? The letters SPF stand for Sun Protection Factor…meaning that it is a ratio that measures the amount of radiation that causes redness in the skin when sunscreen is applied compared to when it’s not. Example: If it takes you 10 minutes, without sunscreen, to burn, than an SPF of 15 will take 15 times that amount of time to burn, or 150 minutes. This is why a minimum of SPF 15 is great for your face on a daily basis, rain or shine. This is an estimated time though…it doesn’t mean that you have 2 hours and 30 minutes to bake in the sun just because you have a level of SPF 15 on your skin.  I’ve seen SPF numbers start as low as 2 and go as high as 7o.  I use a moisturizer with an SPF of 6 every day. Should I step it up with a higher number? Maybe, but I avoid the outdoors as much as I can…sorry, I am not a nature lover at all!

Why does it have to be so sticky and how do oily skinned people deal? Finding the best SPF for your body or your face can be tricky. I’ve tried a lot of them, believe me! I don’t know for sure why the consistency of most moisturizers containing an SPF tend to be greasy or leave my oily skin feeling sticky, but it has been an issue when I’ve been in the market for one. Honestly, I didn’t use a moisturizer with an SPF for years because I hated the way it felt on my skin. This is a big no-no in the world of skin care and I have the lovely sun spots on my cheeks now to prove it. (Working on removing those…product review on that later.) I’ve found 3 moisturizers with SPF that I will always use. The first one is Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 55. Pricey? Yes, but totally worth it! This was the first sunscreen I came across that my skin could actually tolerate. I don’t use it all over, I just use it on my face when I know I’ll be out in the sun for a lengthy time. The second one I discovered is TimeWise Day Solution Sunscreen SPF 25 by Mary Kay. It’s a day serum that you can use as a serum and follow with a moisturizer or use as a moisturizer alone. It’s very light and non-greasy. The third one I like, and I use every day, is Wild Rose 24-Hour Moisturizer SPF 6 by Korres. This is the one I use every day. It is for all skin types and I think it’s a great one for us oily people!

Does age, lifestyle or gender play a part in our choice of SPF? Well, of course lifestyle is going to play a big part in the level of SPF that you use. If you work outdoors, or just spend a lot of time in the sun, you are going to need a higher SPF. You still need to use it if you are more of a hermit, like myself, because even though you may not think of yourself as an outdoors-y person, you still get exposure to the sun. I get mixed answers when I research the difference between men’s skin and women’s skin. Some say skin is skin, others say men have a totally different skin type then women. But, the one thing in common is, men and women both need sunscreen. As for age: It’s never too early to start protecting your children’s skin from the sun and teach them the importance of using sunscreen. Start with an SPF of 15 and keep in mind that children’s skin tends to be sensitive so look for a gentle product. Also, be careful not to get waterproof sunscreen near their eyes. If it gets in there, it’s going to burn and it’s hard to get out.

Ok, summer is just around the corner. What do you do to protect yourself from the sun? What’s your favorite sunscreen?

Email me your questions for Q&A Monday at brookeknowsbeauty@hotmail.com

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