How to Boost Your Sunscreen’s SPF

As we enjoy a fantastic summer, clients at Elizabeth Renee Esthetics Skin Care Spa are aware that the most effective way to slow the hands of time regarding their skin is to diligently apply and reapply sunscreen. Yet, some clients are noticing that they’re still developing a tan or even worse, a harshly skin damaging sunburn.  This has left some of them wondering if their sunscreen is truly effective. If you’ve avoided a sunburn then you can be sure your sunscreen is working. However, a tan still represents skin aging and skin cancer promoting sun damage.

Unfortunately, no sunscreen can completely block the sun’s harmful rays. Here are our top eight tips on how to increase the effectiveness of your sunscreen:

  1. The two-peanut approach – When the FDA tests sunscreen and labels it a certain number (like SPF 30) it tests this by using 1 ounce of sunscreen for your whole body. What that means for your face is a about a half teaspoon from your chin up.  Do you apply this much?  What we advise clients to do this to insure you are getting the right protection:  Apply about the size of a peanut to your face every morning as part of your regular skincare routine.  Then go get dressed.  Come back to the bathroom after your sunscreen has had time to settle in and apply a second peanut amount before applying makeup.  Now you’ll get optimum protection.
  2. Re-Apply – Even the best sunscreen only lasts 80-minutes if you’re outdoors. So, take your sunscreen with you and set your countdown timer on your phone or watch. You might be surprised how quickly 80-minutes goes by.
  3. It’s Water Resistant, Not Water Proof – Think a water-resistant sunscreen is only necessary when swimming? Think again. Hot days can mean a lot of sweat and the body’s cooling system can do a great job of breaking down and diluting sunscreen. A water and sweat-resistant formulation can help with this. But don’t be fooled. There is no such thing as a “waterproof” sunscreen. All sunscreen, no matter what the label says, is compromised by exposure to water and sweat. Re-apply after you swim or if you’re particularly sweaty.
  4. Up your SPF, But Don’t Be Fooled– During the summer don’t use anything less than an SPF 30. Anything lower just doesn’t offer adequate protection, especially if you know you’re going to be exposed to direct sunlight. But also, don’t be fooled. An SPF rating higher than 50 doesn’t not offer significant additional protection from the sun. A product labelled SPF 100 does not protect twice as much as an SPF 50. An SPF 50 will protect you from 98% of the sun’s UV-B rays. A higher SPF rating will only improve the protection very slightly.  Also, the higher the SPF the higher the risk of skin sensitivities and reactions.
  5. Go Broad Spectrum– Not all sunscreens are the same. Look for those labelled “broad spectrum.” These enhanced sunscreens protect you from both UV-A and UV-B rays. UV-A rays contribute to skin cancer and significant skin aging. UV-B rays cause sunburn. Because sunscreens are only required to protect you from UV-B rays you may not be fully protected from the potentially more harmful UV-A rays.
  6. Rosacea and Sensitive Skin Types – Look for zinc oxide as your main sunscreen ingredient. Unlike chemical sunscreens this ingredient provides a barrier of broad spectrum protection that reflects UV rays sun away from your skin. Chemical sunscreens disarm UV light waves by changing them to heat waves.  This process can heat up sensitive skin causing redness and sensitivity.  The ideal sunscreen however should contain a tiny bit of a chemical sunscreen ingredient.  This is because the barrier created by zinc oxide is like a layer of tiny little balls on your skin.  Unless you apply the thickest amount of zinc oxide you are vulnerable to sun’s rays passing between the zinc oxide particles and damaging your skin. A tiny amount of chemical sunscreen (like Octinoxate) can benefit your skin by filling in the spaces and avoiding this imperfection.
  7. Check the Expiration Date – Sunscreen doesn’t last forever.  The ingredients in sunscreen are naturally unstable and over time sunscreens loose their effectiveness. Pay attention to expiration dates as using expired sunscreen can result in a nasty burn. Did you apply sunscreen all over but developed a strange, swirly sun burn? Your sunscreen has likely expired. Can’t find the expiration date on the bottle? Throw it away!
  8. SPF In Foundation – Foundations that contain sunscreen are not a replacement for your regular sunscreen product. The reason why is simple.  Are you really going to apply the required 1/2 teaspoon of foundation to your face to get the amount of SPF promised on the bottle?  I think not.  However, applying a reasonable amount of foundation with SPF after your two peanuts worth sunscreen in the morning will boost your SPF by adding another layer of protection.



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