The Skinny on Sunscreen: Active Ingredients and Must-Have Products

Everyone knows by now we have to protect our skin from the sun to prevent the effects of photoaging and harmful skin cancer. Ultraviolet light is the culprit for these damaging results. There are numerous sunscreen and sun block products available, but what are they good for and which ingredients are most effective in protecting skin from sun aging? Let’s clarify the most common terms and examine active ingredients.

UVC vs. UVB vs. UVA

Ultraviolet radiation is broken down into three categories depending on the wavelength. The first type, UVC, has nearly no effect on the skin as it is mostly absorbed by the ozone layer. UVB, does the most damage to the upper layer of skin, called the epidermis, and is responsible for causing sunburn. Although 90% of UVB is absorbed by the ozone layer, UVB absorption lessens as the ozone becomes depleted. UVB is most intense during 10 am and 2 pm, as well as during the summer months, so it makes sense to avoid sun exposure at these times.

TThe strongest and most dangerous form of ultraviolet radiation is UVA because it affects the lower layer of skin known as the dermis and catalyses the processes resulting in photoaging and skin cancer. UVA radiation is not absorbed by the ozone layer, nor is it any stronger or weaker during any given time of day or season. UVA also penetrates glass, making your skin vulnerable indoors as well as outdoors. Therefore, if you are not using sun protection now, there is no better time to get started.

Which SPF and Ingredients Should You Choose?

SPF was originally developed as a measurement of UVB protection. Essentially, the SPF factor tells you how much longer you can be exposed to the sun without burning. Thus, if takes you 15 minutes to burn, SPF allows you to stay out 15 times longer without burning. But SPF is actually only half of the picture as it protects only against UVB rays. Make sure you buy a broad spectrum sunscreen which is clearly marked UVB/ />
Looking for the right ingredients is also essential in finding adequate protection from the damage caused by ultraviolet light. One of the most common ingredients found in sunscreens is avobenzone, the only chemical which blocks the entire UVA spectrum without irritating skin. This ingredient is stabilized when combined with other ingredients protecting against UVB radiation. Peter Thomas Roth’s Oil Free Sun Block SPF 30 is one product to utilize the effectiveness of avobenzone. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are other ingredients often found in sunscreens and sun blocks. Despite their incredible effectiveness in blocking both UBA and UVA rays, these two fell out of favor because they left an opaque residue on the skin. However, newer formulations use these nanoparticles of ingredients, making them invisible on the skin. High Protection Lotion SPF30 from Barbor will moisturize and protect sensitive skin using the powerful blocking agent titanium dioxide. Whichever product you choose, make sure you are using broad spectrum protection. Remember to apply it at least 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapply it every 90 minutes, after swimming or heavily perspiring.