National Sunscreen Day is coming up on May 27, and if you haven’t added SPF to your daily routine yet, we’re here to change that. When most people think of SPF, they probably imagine a big tube of thick, greasy lotion that leaves a white cast, but it has had a makeover over the last few years; it’s not your mother’s sunscreen anymore. 

SPF is essential for protecting your skin from harmful UV rays that can cause sunburn, premature aging, and even skin cancer. Today, there are different SPF options, ranging from light mists to glowy creams and everything in between; sometimes with a more direct approach to picking safe ingredients for your skin and the environment. But, before getting into specifics, it’s important to understand the basics. 

Understanding Sun Protection 

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and lets you know how long your skin will be protected from harmful UVA and UVB rays, whether the sun is out or not. (Yes, sunscreen is still essential on cloudy days.) UVA rays penetrate the deeper layers of the dermis and can cause premature aging, while UVB rays are more surface-level and leave you with a sunburn. This exposure also increases the production of free radicals, which can cause significant damage to both the external and internal aspects of the body.

The PA on your sunscreen means Protection Grade and measures the level of protection it provides against those rays. The PA rating is indicated by the number of plus signs (+) next to the PA symbol. More plus signs means the higher the protection against UVA rays. The Persistent Pigment Darkening (PPD) system determines the PA rating by measuring how quickly the skin would tan when exposed to UVA rays. The higher the PPD value, the longer it takes for the skin to tan, indicating a higher level of protection.

Dermatologists suggest opting for a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to block 97% of UVB rays. It's important to remember that no sunscreen can block 100% of these harmful rays. However, studies have proven that using sunscreen, avoiding direct sunlight, and wearing protective clothing can reduce the risk of skin cancer and prevent various forms of skin damage. Remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours, regardless of the SPF level according to the Academy of Dermatology.

Finding the Right SPF for Your Needs 

You’ve probably heard about two types of sunscreen: chemical and physical. Some people will argue that one is better than the other, with a common misconception being that physical sunscreens contain natural ingredients that are better for your skin. The truth is that physical and chemical sunscreens work very similarly. 

Physical sunscreens (sometimes known as mineral sunscreens) usually contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Chemical sunscreens contain active ingredients oxybenzone, avobenzone, homosalate, and octinoxate. Both types form a protective film on the skin that absorbs UV light to turn it into heat, sometimes reflecting and scattering it. Nowadays, most chemical sunscreens are photostable, just like physical sunscreens. Some people believe that chemical sunscreens must be absorbed into the skin to be effective, but neither type requires complete skin absorption to work (although, it can prolong its effectiveness). 

Sunscreen options vary from lotions to sticks, each suitable for different skin types and areas of the body. Creams work well for dry skin and facial application, while gels are ideal for oily skin and areas with hair. Sunscreen sticks are recommended for delicate areas like around the eyes, and sprays are convenient for travel or busy parents. Tinted sunscreens offer protection against visible light and can help prevent dark spots, with the added benefit of avoiding white residue on the skin. Finding the right SPF for your lifestyle can make all the difference, so don’t hesitate to try out different options to find the best one for you. 

Top 3 Sunscreens Your Skin Will Love from Images Med Spa

ALASTIN Skincare HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36

The Alastin HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum SPF 36 is a tinted sunscreen that protects your skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays and provides a soft, glowing finish. The lightweight all-mineral formulation has long-lasting hydration and powerful antioxidants that protect the skin from pollution, IR rays, and blue light. It’s fragrance-free, reef-friendly, and doesn’t leave behind a white residue. Plus, it's water-resistant for up to 40 minutes, allowing you to enjoy a bit more time in the water without worry.

Recommended for: Great for all skin types and anyone looking for non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic mineral-based sunscreen protection. This 2-in-1 sunscreen and tint is perfect for improving discoloration and brightening skin tone for a glowing look. 

Revision Skincare Intellishade® TruPhysical 45

Revision Skincare Intellishade® TruPhysical 45 is an award-winning, all-inclusive moisturizer that delivers the power of 5 anti-aging ingredients in 1. This 100% mineral sunscreen helps to correct, protect, conceal, brighten, and hydrate skin for clinically proven results. A blend of 3 peptides, botanical extracts, and antioxidants helps improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while providing antioxidant benefits against environmental stressors. This SPF provides broad-spectrum UV protection and is not formulated with parabens, alcohol, or artificial fragrances. 

Recommended for: Suitable for all skin types, particularly sensitive skin, and as well as anyone seeking mineral sun protection. This multitasking daily anti-aging moisturizer is perfect for those with a busy life and provides several benefits at once.

Skinmedica Total Defense + Repair Broad Spectrum SPF 34/PA ++++ 

Improve and reduce the appearance of sun damage with the Skinmedica Total Defense and Repair SPF 34. Powered by Skinmedica’s SOL-IR® Advanced Antioxidant Complex, it goes beyond traditional sunscreens by defending against harmful infrared rays (IR-A rays) and supporting the skin's ability to restore itself. Active ingredients like Octinoxate, Octisalate, and Zinc Oxide help prevent sunburn and decrease the risk of skin cancer and premature aging caused by the sun.

Recommended for: Suitable for all skin types and those who want additional protection against harmful infrared rays. Plus, this SPF is TSA-friendly making it perfect for on-the-go. 

Complete Your Skincare Routine with Sunscreen 

For best results, it is highly recommended to apply sunscreen after moisturizing your skin. This step is essential as it helps to prevent any disruption to the effectiveness of your SPF after its application. You can also opt for a moisturizer that already contains SPF, providing you with a convenient two-in-one solution. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a minimum of one teaspoon of sunscreen on your face; one ounce for the body. Most people tend to go light with their sunscreen but it’s better to use more than you think you need. 

You could have the most up-to-date, well-researched skincare routine but it’s nothing without an SPF. Sun protection is crucial for healthy skin. That’s why at Images Med Spa, we’re offering you the chance this month to upgrade your sunscreen for 15% off. Our experts will assist you in finding the perfect one that suits your specific needs. 

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