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Why We Need SPF

You may have heard me talk about the importance of SPF, but why is it so important?

We're deep into the throes of summer and with all the pool parties, gardening, sports, and the excessive amounts of time spent outdoors, of course, we should be wearing SPF. Did you know that even when you don't go outside, the sun's penetrating rays can affect your skin through windows?

Unless you're a vampire, you should be keeping your SPF close, as it's literally the most important part of your skincare routine. In fact, maybe we'd see more vampires if they were wearing a hefty amount of that magical SPF. Speaking of vampires, they always look so youthful, don't you think? Well, without the harmful effects of the sun on their skin, it's really no surprise.

Even when you don't go outside, the sun's penetrating rays can affect your skin through windows.

In all seriousness, sunshine for the rest of the living breaks down collagen and elastin, which are the natural fibers that keep the skin from sagging. Our skin reaches its peak performance around the age of 18, and after that, it's an uphill battle from there. It's important that we apply an SPF daily in order to prevent extra deterioration.

Not all skin types react the same way

Sun damage can also lead to hyperpigmentation of the skin, which can also result in different forms of skin cancer. Nobody is born with freckles, and some Fitzpatrick types are more prone to the damaging rays of the sun. Your Fitz type is based on your genetics and the amount of activated melanin in the skin. Melanin is what gives your skin color, and we are all born with the same amount of melanin. Different genetics produce either more or less activated melanin. Those born with more activated melanin tend to have higher resilience to sun damage, but when they burn, they burn BAD. This is why SPF is appropriate for everyone.

Just because you didn't burn, doesn't mean damage wasn't done

The sun produces different rays, A and B. The A rays are the longer aging rays that reach into the deeper layers of the skin and cause you to see the effects of your sun damage later on. The B rays are the shorter burning rays that cause a more immediate result. We see a sunburn or our body's sun defense mechanism of melanin called to the surface in the form of hyperpigmentation. Visible hyperpigmentation is located in the epidermis, which is the top layer of the skin.

Your makeup is not your SPF, mmmmk

You would generally have to apply 6-7 times a normal amount of foundation to achieve the amount of SPF they claim to have. I truly love that makeup is trying to be more beneficial to your skin in this day and age, but you still need to use a separate SPF.

So many numbers!

You've most likely noticed that different SPFs have different numbers of protection - 15, 32, 50, etc. This is the level of protection and there's really not a great deal of difference. SPF 15 will block about 93% of the sun's harmful rays, while jumping to SPF 50 blocks 98%.

So you've had that bottle for 3 years...

Remember, SPFs will expire. Generally, all your products should expire after being open for a year. SPFs are no different, and for the most part, they will lose their promised amount of protection by a couple of points after they expire. At least they're usually not completely useless, but there's no excuse for not using up a normal-sized bottle of SPF within about 3-6 months, unless you bought one you didn't love and replaced it with another to use.

That SPF feeling a bit heavy?

There are also chemical and physical SPF protectants. Chemical penetrates into the skin, while physical sits on top. Chemical SPFs can feel less heavy and absorb the sun's rays. Physical SPFs block the rays from penetrating. I have also seen really great SPFs with a mixture of both chemical and physical protectants.

Which type of SPF is best for you depends on your skin type and concerns. If you don't know which would be best for you, ask your skin care specialist. They can give you great options for the types that may be most effective for you, without causing breakouts or other issues.

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