Things We Wish We Knew Sooner: SPF
Wearing SPF regularly is one of the most important things you can do to protect against skin damage, premature aging including fine lines and wrinkles, pigmentation and of course, skin cancers and once you find the perfect one, you won't look back.
That said, we thought it might be helpful to share some nuggets of information that we wish we had known earlier in our SPF journey that aren't talked about as much.
1. WE NEED MORE THAN WE THINK
To get the adequate protection, we need about 2mg per square inch of skin. The amount will depend slightly on the product you're using. If you're using a pure sunscreen (no tint, no moisturizer with spf) apply a visible layer to your entire face, neck and ears. As a guide, apply two strips of spf to your index and middle finger and massage into skin.
When SPF is a component in a product but not the main focus, like a foundation-SPF or tint or a moisturizer with SPF you will need to apply considerably more to get the protection that is stated on the packaging which is why most experts strongly recommend applying these types of products over sunscreen. (more on this later!)
2. WE NEED TO REAPPLY OFTEN
Most of us forget that SPF is only at its most active for about 2 hours so we need to be reapplying often for the SPF protection to be effective.
3. WE CAN'T RELY ON TINTED/MOISTURIZER SPFS ALONE
We're all looking for ways to simplify our routines, tinted-SPFs and Moisturizers with built-in sun protection are the perfect way to do this but experts say we shouldn't rely on them as our sole SPF.
When SPF is mixed into formulations and is not the main purpose of a product, it won't be as potent and because of this, the sun protection factor advertised can only really be achieved when applying much more of the product than is probably comfortable to wear.
For ample protection, we should consider using products containing SPF as a "boost" of protection but not the main source.
4. SPF 30 AND ABOVE ONLY
Experts recommend using an SPF between 30 + 50 to get proper protection. SPF30 blocks 97% of UVB rays (the rays that can cause burning + damage) whilst SPF50 blocks 98% of those rays. Anything higher than 50 offers marginally more protection (less than 1%).
5. ANTIOXIDANTS AND SPF ARE A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN
Consider layering an antioxidant serum underneath SPF. Vitamin C, Green Tea Extract, Vitamin E and Niacinamide are some antioxidants that work well with SPF by helping to keep your skin protected against environmental stressors and free radicals that contribute to photo-aging, wrinkles, uneven skin-tone and fine lines.
Antioxidants also help to correct the effects of oxidative stress which causes the breakdown of collagen.
In short, Antioxidants can seriously boost your skin's ability to repair itself as well as preventing further damage. With a generous layer of SPF on top, this duo is kind of unstoppable.
5. ZINC OXIDE CAN BE DRYING
If your preferred SPF is mineral based and you feel your skin is dry, Zinc Oxide could be the culprit. As wonderful as it is as sun protection, it can have drying tendencies so be sure to hydrate well or look for SPF with ingredients that contain humectants such as Hyaluronic Acid that'll help to retain moisture in the skin.
6. WE NEED TO PROTECT AFTER EXFOLIATION
Exfoliation is a key step for healthy, happy and clear skin especially is you're a regular SPF-wearer. One of the reasons some people don't like SPF is because their experience has often resulted in congested skin but with adequate removal and regular exfoliation (and the right SPF for your skin type) you should be on your way to healthy and happy skin for now and years to come.
The type of exfoliant and the frequency is dependent on your skin type and concerns but just remember that when you slough off dead skin cells, the new skin that has surfaced can be more vulnerable to UV rays and you should be mindful about liberally applying your SPF and protecting yourself with hats/ sunglasses to prevent any damage.
The same goes for protecting yourself the day after using products that contain actives like Vitamin A (Retinol) which speeds up cell-turnover and can increase sensitivity to the sun.
7. SPF IS HARD TO REMOVE
SPF is notoriously difficult to remove from skin (especially physical sunscreen with ingredients like Zinc Oxide as it's job is to create a literal barrier) which means it's crucial to find a consistent cleansing routine that works for your skin and ensures no trace of SPF is left behind to avoid blocked pores and congestion. Whether you cleanse in the morning or not is your personal choice but don't skip the evening wash, ideally as soon as you get home to give your skin more time to breathe.
Double-cleansing can be a great method for effectively washing away the day and ensuring healthy, balanced and clear skin.
Start your routine with a cleansing oil or balm, these types of cleansers are perfect because they work by "breaking down" the formulas on your skin, making them easier to remove. You might want to remove with a damp, clean washcloth.
If you are prone to breakouts or have oily skin, don't be scared of oil cleansers! They work by binding to excess oil in the skin so when you remove, you'll wash away that excess oil along with any dirt, debris, makeup and of course, SPF from the day.
Next, you'll want to reach for a cream or gel cleanser, something that will gently cleanse without stripping the skin of it's natural oils.