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Monday, July 1, 2013

Time to sizzle...not fry!!/Richmond VA makeup artist Aaron Ellerbrock/BRIDEface Richmond



 It is that time of year again. We find ourselves outside much more often enjoying the weather and the sun. But being able to spend all the time soaking up the sunshine comes with responsibility or you can wind up looking like our lovely model above! The suns rays can cause damage to the skin at any time of year, but as summer approaches, the sun's intensity is far greater than any other time of year...which means we can really pay the price.

Most doctors and dermatologists agree that the single biggest defense we have against ageing is to use a sunscreen. Sun damage not only causes an aged appearance but also: pigment irregularities, cellular mutations, and in some cases, skin cancer. So even if you have spent years in the sun without issue, it can happen to any of us, at anytime. Spending time outside in the summer, without using SPF, is just like playing Russian Roulette.

Before I go any further, I want to state I am not a doctor. The information you will read comes from my years of experience as the National Training Executive for a major skincare line. Always check with your doctor if you have questions. Also remember, SPF is a hot button topic and you will find lots of research and articles that often contradict each other. Just keep in mind the importance of using it!

Here are a few facts about SPF that you want to keep in mind. First, SPF can either be chemical or physical. SPF that is chemical is often referred to as sunscreen. Some examples of chemical sunscreens are avobenzone, oxybenzone, or octocrylene but there are many more. What these ingredients do is they absorb the harmful UV rays and convert them to non-harmful rays. When we look at physical sunblocks, these are ingredients that literally block the rays from hitting the skin. It is like having an umbrella over you. If you wear a foundation you will get a little sun block, but more common physical blocks are titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.

Different companies and associations will say different things about what the number behind the SPF means. According to the American Melonoma Foundation a chemical SPF of 2 can absorb and convert only about 50% of UV rays. SPF 15 can handle about 93% while a 35 can be effective against about 97% of harmful UV rays. However, the most commonly accepted rule on what the SPF number means is as follows: take the number, multiply it by 10 and that gives you the number of minutes you are protected from the sun. For example, SPF30 X 10 = 300 minutes or roughly 5 hours of protection. This doesn't apply to sunbathing, when you are just sitting in one place. That protection time would be cut by half at least. Of course if you sweat or go into water, that time is drastically cut too. Also, if you are fair skinned, you probably have to cut that down by 1/2, giving you only 2.5 hours of protection. You will want to make sure you re-apply regularly if doing physical activity of getting into water. Also, don't get fooled by extremely high numbers like 70 or 90. Doctors agree that SPF 50 is about the most protection you can get and products that tout a higher number just fool people into thinking they can stay out longer.

Now SPF regulation continues to change and laws are becoming more stringent but at present, legally the SPF number  must only reflect a products ability to screen UVB rays (the rays that burn) not UVA rays (the rays that cause ageing). When you are buying your sunscreen make sure to pick on that states it protects from both UVA and UVB rays. And to make matters even more confusing, the law states that if a product has UVA protection, it only has to protect from short UVA rays, but there are both short and long UVA rays! You can see why research on this topic is so important.

One other things that I want you to keep in mind is the amazing reflective powers of the sun. 17% of the sun's harmful rays get reflected off of sand. So when you are at the beach, you are not only getting hit by the rays from above, but 17% more off the sand. And snow is even worse! 80% of the suns rays get reflected off the snow so snow bunnies beware! Also, you can get damage even on cloudy days. Clouds help, but 80% of UV rays pass through clouds and that number increases with every 1000 foot increases in elevation.

Click here for a Yahoo article about suncreens and which are good or not so good. I am not saying Yahoo is the authority, but it is worth a quick read.

I hope that the above helps us all to realize the importance of using an SPF. I too have been guilty of spending time outside (especially when I go out on my bike) without SPF, but what a chance I take when I do that. We are all trying to hold onto our "youngest" face possible so why not just take 2 minutes to slap on the SPF? Keep in mind that according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, in the past 31 years more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.

Enjoy the sun, enjoy being outside, enjoy summer....just stay smart. That's my two cents worth! Please feel free to contact me with any SPF questions you might have. I will do my best to help!!

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