Have you ever noticed that there is a lot of mixed information regarding SPF? It’s difficult to know how to choose the best kind, how long it lasts, what number to suggest and whether waterproof REALLY means waterproof.

The FDA realized in 2013 that there was a lot of confusion out there through product advertising and new research. So confusing in fact, that they came out with new guidelines for consumers to better understand their best options. We want to demystify SPF for you, so you know how to best coach your clients in the importance of and how to choose an SPF.

First and foremost, SPF is a MUST! Experts agree that application of SPF on a daily basis significantly lowers the possibility of developing skin cancer. On top of that, yearly examination by your Dermatologist to access and treat suspicious lesions only adds to those lower numbers. Aside from those two givens, let’s clarify some of the “mixed information” we hear.

What is the best SPF number?

The FDA determined that there is nothing higher than a 50+. This blocks 98% of the sun’s rays. SPF 30 blocks 97%. Anything higher is a moot point and misnomer.

No sunscreen lasts longer than 90 minutes.

That’s right, you can’t put on your SPF and think that you are set for the day. I recommend that my clients purchase powder sunscreen that they can reapply throughout the day especially if they have makeup on. My favorite is Colorescience powdered SPF in medium.

Is sunscreen really waterproof?

There is no such thing as “waterproof” only “water resistant”. Many people think that applying an SPF meant for water would last the whole day. Not so.

What SPF is the BEST kind?

Perhaps, you remember back when lifeguards had white Zinc on their nose to protect from burning. Worked great but not something you would want to spread over your entire body. About 15 years ago chemical sunscreens came to the forefront as a better option. No white paste look, spray aerosol options, and some companies even boasting SPF 100. We soon realized that these chemical sunscreens were causing irritation to sensitive skin, as well as heat rash. We now know that physical protection sunscreens (where the sun rays reflect off the surface of the skin) are more efficient. Plus, with better product testing and ingredients, the “white paste” appearance of zinc now blends into all skin types.

Now that we know that we are looking for a physical sunscreen, how do we find it?

The best way is to turn the container over and look for the “active ingredients” if those listed are Titanium Dioxide and/or Zinc Oxide, that’s a thumbs up. If they are ingredients you can’t pronounce, we recommend placing it back on the shelf.
Interesting sidenote…When shopping for SPF for the whole family, especially when going on vacation, head to the baby section and purchase a LARGE tube of baby SPF. Notice the “active ingredients”; baby sunscreens are not allowed to be anything but physical (Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide based).

Now that we have clarified and updated you on types of SPF, the importance of daily SPF and yearly examinations by a Dermatologist to protect against skin cancer, here are some little-known facts that may entice your clients to apply.
Did you know that 80% of aging is from sun exposure? That’s right, it starts at an early age. Guess what! Sunburns from years ago and effects of them, in addition to repeated “tans” or burns can add up to brown spots and crepe skin, not to mention skin cancer when you’re older. Typically, when you reach your 50’s the effects of not wearing sunscreen in your youth will be present on your skin.
In my field as an advanced aesthetician, I can educate and offer treatments to my clients to help repair and restore their skin. It’s a team effort, and I encourage them to help me help them and protect their investment by always applying SPF on a daily basis.

By Julie Hoodenpyl