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Sunscreen 101:

How sun-savvy are you?

We hear a great deal about reading labels these days. That should not stop at the grocery store! What you put ON your body matters as much as what you put into it. It’s important to not only know but understand what your beauty product labels mean, especially your sunscreen. We are going to break down what is on the label and what you need to know before you head out for some fun in the sun!

What is SPF and why does it matter?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and it measures the level of protection a sunscreen provides against UVB rays that cause sunburns.

ClarityMD Aesthetician Charisse Alexander recommends that you choose a sunscreen with SPF of at least 30, regardless of your skin type, and reapply it every 2 hours or after being in the water or sweating.

When choosing a sunscreen for your face, it's important to select a product specifically designed for the face, as it is typically lighter and less likely to clog pores. Look for a sunscreen that is labeled oil-free, especially if you have acne-prone skin.

It is also important to note that sunscreen should be used every day, even on cloudy days or when indoors, according to ClarityMD Spa Manager, Michelle Schmid. “Even when you can’t see the sun, damaging rays can still penetrate your skin, even through windows.”

Broad-Spectrum matters too.

Speaking of sunscreen labels, there is another phrase to look out for.

"A broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVB and UVA," explains Dr. Jodie Harper. Rays that come from the sun fall into a number of different wavelengths. The SPF on the bottle mainly gives us information about UVB, which is the wavelength of light which causes burning and is responsible for skin cancers. “We know that other wavelengths of light, particularly UVA, are also detrimental to the skin,” says ClarityMD Aesthetician Megan DeCamp. “The sun is responsible for up to 80% of all signs of aging and wrinkling,” she added.

What the WHAT?

So we have talked about SPF and UVA/UVB. But what is the difference between chemical and physical sunscreens?

“This is confusing for a lot of people,” chuckles ClarityMD Aesthetician Genevieve Smith. “Here is an easy way to remember the difference. Chemical sunscreen goes into the bloodstream while Physical sunscreen sits on top of the skin,” Smith added.

Physical sunscreen contains active mineral ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that work by sitting on top of the skin and reflecting/ scattering UV rays. Chemical sunscreen, on the other hand, contains active chemical ingredients like avobenzone or oxybenzone that work by absorbing UV rays and converting them into heat energy, which is then released from the skin.

How Much do I need?

So now that you know which sunscreen to use, how much do you need?

To provide adequate protection, you will need to use a teaspoon of sunscreen for your face.

ClarityMD Aesthetician Nicole Ellison likes the two-finger rule for your face and neck.

Don't rely solely on sunscreen: ClarityMD Jamie McKee says, ”Remember that sunscreen should not be the only tool in your sun protection toolkit. Use shade, clothing, hats and sunglasses and avoid the sun during peak hours to minimize sun damage.”

For a limited time, take 20% off all sunscreen products at ClarityMD!

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