De-Mystifying Sunblock

Last week I wrote a post, Sunblock Is The New Black, where I touched upon the importance of sunblock and I know that when I’m in the sunblock aisle of the drug store I’m more than a little confused. And then there as the news story last year about the little white lies surrounding all those “water-resistant” claims. So I’ve decided to do a little research to help clear up my confusion and I decided to share it with you. Please be sure to consult with your physician about the appropriate sunblock for you and your family.

Lets start with SPF. WWhat exactly is SPF?
Sun Protection Factor. This rating indicates how long a sunscreen remains effective on the skin.

Is a higher SPF the better?
The the number doesn’t necessarily mean a significant amount of protection from the sun. An SPF 15 sunblock product blocks approximately 94% of UVB rays while a product with a SPF 45 blocks approximately 98% of rays.

What is UVA and UVB?
The sun gives off energy in the form of radiation. We can see the sunlight, but we can’t see or feel the sun’s UV’s rays. This ultraviolet radiation is made of UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are short, powerful and dangerous rays that affect the outer layers of our skin. The cause sunburns or produces melanin, aka that tanned look. UVA rays are longer rays that penetrate into the skin’s layers. The rays cause wrinkling and premature aging of our skin

When should sun block be applied?
Approximately 15-20 minutes before you step out into the sun.

Is water-resistant really water-resistant?
Water-resistant sunblock retains its SPF level after 40 minutes of water immersion. But it never hurts to re-apply.

How often does sunblock need to be reapplied?
Some sunblocks will lose their effectiveness after two hours. So re-apply often.

Spray-on vs. Lotion, which one is better?
Both have their pros and cons. I like the spray-on because it dries quickly, easy to apply and doesn’t leave my hands greasy. However, it’s hard to tell if you’ve covered up completely. I think with lotions you have better control of where you’ve applied sunblock. And I guess either one is the better choice if you use it consistently.

Applying sunblock is an extra-step in our already hectic life, but it’s well worth the couple extra minutes we spend. Now we are armed with info to hit the drug store and buy what we need to help protect us from the sun and allow us to enjoy these great warm days ahead.

Which do you prefer? Spray-on or lotion?

8 responses to “De-Mystifying Sunblock”

  1. Great summary! I always where sunscreen. I do try to get the higher number though because it is more effective as you mentioned. I actually saw something going around on the internet last year about sunscreen being bad for you and the chemicals absorbing into your skin and such. I think I’ll stick with the sunscreen though because the scientific backing on that is much more powerful.

    • I did hear the same thing last year, but just like you I continue to use sunscreen daily. I believe it’s that important.

  2. Finding you via SITS. You’ve written a great how-to article informing on the basics of sunscreen.

    If you’re curious about learning more about sunscreen or about the whole discussion on sunscreen being bad, you can start by looking at the differences between European and American sunscreen. Some of the chemicals in American products are banned in Europe, so there are drastically different formulations in different countries. As you begin to look at the WHY behind that, you may feel a need to add a part three to your article. While I do continue to use sunscreen, I’m now more selective on formulation and on WHEN we use it.

    • Hi Susan, Thanks for visiting. I hadn’t realized that there are differences between American & European sunscreens. It’s something to definitely look further into. Have a great weekend!

  3. Great info. I am a sunscreen fanatic and use it every day. I have started using physical sunblocks instead of the chemical ones and they seems to work better.

    • I’m really enjoying this conversation about sunscreens and I am glad that I have this opportunity to find out what everyone else is using. Thanks for visiting!

  4. I am going to start wearing sunscreen regularly. The myth was people of color didn’t need it, but as the rates of skin cancer amongst us are steadily climbing we know that’s no longer the case (if it ever was).
    Just last week I heard a doc on The Today Show say that it should have a higher number, moisturizer and water proof all in one. Wonderful informative post!

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