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The ABC's of SPF

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Time to put away the heavy winter jackets, and break out the flip flops and fun summer clothes! After our long Canadian winters, it’s a breath of fresh air to be able to go outside and enjoy the warm weather. Before we get too excited, let’s not forget about protecting our skin and putting on some sunscreen. With so many different products on the market, it’s hard to know which sunscreen or SPF to choose and how to go about giving your skin the protection is needs and deserves.



Why SPF? It’s pretty well known that excessive sun and UV rays can cause skin cancer, but it also causes premature aging, broken capillaries and those lovely brown spots or “age spots”. Most of the sun damage that shows up in your skin in your 40s is actually damage that was done on a deeper level in your 20s! Remind yourself, a tan is your skin literally cooking. It’s trying to make a better defense for your body by darkening the skin, and being more of a sun shield. While a great tan looks good, it’s very important to be wary and be safe.


Chemical VS Physical: There are two different types of sunscreens out there; there are chemical sunscreens that work by absorbing the UV rays and dissipating them in a way that protects the skin, while physical sunscreens work like a shield, deflecting the UV rays and bouncing them right off the skin. Many ingredients in most chemical sunscreens have actually been identified as carcinogens, which seems ironic, since you’re using the product to prevent skin cancer.


A physical block is guaranteed protection, without the risk of absorbing nasty chemicals. Physical (or mineral) sunblocks use natural minerals like Zinc or Titanium dioxide to shield and protect the skin. It's fantastic that mineral makeup is becoming such a trend, because it allows you to look on point while adding to your sun protection. The downfall of physical sunscreens is that they can be a little white or chalky. Luckily, the times are changing, and these products are getting better but if you still find it too white try these two things; do not over-apply! You only need a thin layer of mineral sunscreen for it to give you full protection, so don't go overboard. Also, when applying, pat it into the skin as opposed to rubbing it. If you over-rub the product, it can start to form clumps and rub right off the skin. Patting it in reduces the chalky appearance and ensures thorough coverage.



SPF in moisturizers! At first glance, these are extremely appealing. A quick one-stop morning routine, but unfortunately it does not work. First off, if you have a moisturizer with SPF, it's a chemical SPF. Putting on a small amount of it in the morning will not protect you all day, even if you're just outside for your morning commute - so please do yourself a favour and add the extra step of applying sunscreen. You won't find a moisturizer with a physical SPF because they do opposite things. You want your moisturizer to absorb into your skin and nourish it, whereas you want your SPF to be a shield or barrier, so it doesn't absorb into the skin at all. So next time you're getting ready, take the extra step, it's worth it - it's good health.


Enjoy the nice summer weather, go soak up the sun and explore the beautiful outdoors, just do it with the right sunscreen and a little bit of caution!