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SPF: Hype or Reality? What Everyone Should Know About SPF


As the sun comes out and people are heading to the beach or park for some summer sunning, don’t forget your sunscreen! But not just any sunscreen – make sure yours has the right SPF.

What is it about SPF that makes it important? Why is a higher SPF better? Is the importance placed on SPF just hype, or something we should pay attention to? The following are some facts everyone should know about SPF.

SPF blocks out the sun’s harmful rays. SPF is the abreviation for Sun Protection Factor and relates to how long you can be in the sun without burning. To clarify, that means if you’re wearing SPF 30, you can be in the sun 30 times longer before burning than you can without sunscreen. This is why it’s important to re-apply sunscreen throughout your sun exposure. Low SPF hardly counts as effective protection: SPF 2 will only absorb 50% of harmful ultraviolet radiation, while SPF 15 has 93% absorption.

Dermatologists recommend that individuals of all skin types use SPF of 15 or higher year round, and an even higher SPF for people who are fair-skinned and burn easily. SPF only protects against UVB rays – it’s not enough. Sure, UVB rays are the most harmful kind of sun radiation, causing sunburn and skin cancer, but it’s also important to protect against UVA rays (ultraviolet A). UVA radiation is the cause of premature aging and wrinkles.

SPF only refers to the sun protection factor against UVB rays. Make sure the SPF factor is for both UVA & UVB full spectrum protection. There is also a difference between a sunscreen and a sunblock. Sunscreen offers less protection than a sunblock. Just like it says “screen” it will filter the sun but only a sunblock will help to bounce those damaging rays off your skin.

Unsafe sun exposure in childhood can cause premature aging: UVA and UVB radiation is one of the top sources for premature aging in adults. Most of the sun damage a person undergoes happens in the first 18 years of their life. If a child has been severely sunburned (blisters and maybe a fever), they have a much higher risk of getting melasma, darkened pigmentation and permanent sun damage for premature aging in adulthood. Keep your kids safe from the harmful rays and make sure to apply sunscreen often throughout the day when they’re outside!

Waterproof and water-resistant doesn’t mean one-time-application… According to the FDA, a sunscreen is ‘water-resistant’ if the SPF is effective after 40 minutes of exposure to water. ‘Waterproof’ means 80 minutes of maintained SPF levels after water exposure. For your safety reapply your SPF often.

SPF is necessary year-round. UVA and UVB penetrate clouds. You can still be exposed to sun damage and skin cancer. Washington State has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the U.S. because there are so many grey days and people do not protect themselves and will spend time outdoors subjecting themselves to harmful rays. You should wear sunscreen with a good SPF level (SPF 15 minimum) year-round if you plan to be outside for 20 minutes or more.

20 minutes of sun exposure is actually healthy for you. You absorb Vit D which helps to promote healthy skin and increases seratonin levels in our brain. Remember that the suns harmful rays are most damaging when when it’s at the highest peak, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

There are many moisturizers out there that contain SPF. Mia carries a line called Lira Clinical. The BIO BB and SPF lines offer a comprehensive system that incorporates new advances in anti-aging, camouflage and sun protection, all in one. What Mia loves about Lira is that it’s all natural ingredients, using no parabens or harmful chemicals. They also contain pure minerals and vitamins such as Vitamin C, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to give you the best protection from the sun’s harmful rays.

I hope these facts and tips will help you keep your skin safe and happy all summer (and year) long! Contact Mia for your facial today and discover which SPF is right for your skin.


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