Sun Day School: The ABCs of SPFs

The countdown until summer (Fridays) is officially on at the Stylesight office — 5! And with beaches, BBQs, and bare legs just around the corner, it’s time to get serious about sunning safety. So whether you’re beach-bound for Memorial Day or sweating it out in the city, Stylesight’s trustee beauty professors are here to school you in Sunning 101.

Lesson 1: UVA, UVB, SPF…WTF?
Sunscreen is used to block ultraviolet light from damaging the skin. There are two types of UV light — UVA and UVB — that come into play for sunscreen. UVB is the primary cause of sunburn and UVA is linked to more long-term damaging effects on the skin. SPF, or sun protection factor, refers to the ability of a sunscreen to block UVB rays, but not UVA. The SPF number measures how long unprotected skin can be exposed to UVB rays before burning, opposed to how long it takes to burn without protection. If you burn after 1 minute of sun exposure, then SPF 15 will prevent sunburn 15x (15 minutes) longer than if the product was not being used. If it takes 10 minutes, with SPF 15 it will take 150 minutes to burn.

Lesson 2: Apply, reapply, repeat.
No matter what number you choose to slather on, from SPF 10 to SPF 30+, to be effective, sunscreen needs to be fully absorbed into the skin, so apply 30 minutes before stepping into the sun. Sunscreen should cover you from top to toe and be reapplied at least every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.

Lesson 3: Expired
Sunscreens have an expiration date of about a year. Using an expired product has diminished SPF and can lead to reduced protection from UV rays, causing more harm than good.

So toss away last season’s sunscreens and check out our current skin-protecting picks. Because when it comes to protecting your skin, the best defense is a good offense.

1. Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion SPF 50+ for Face & Body
2. Supergoop! Everyday UV Face and Body Lotion SPF 30+
3. Kiehl’s Fluid UV Defense SPF 50+
4. Neutrogena Beach Defense Line

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