Lauren/Lisa: What is SPF and what does it mean?
Dr. Goldfaden: The protection is all factored on the time spent in the sun. SPF, “Sun Protection Factor” primarily measures UVB protection. Sun Screen products above SPF 50 do not offer an increase in sun protection (this is the current FDA regulations). When one wears an SPF 30 for example, you could stay out in direct sunlight for 30 times longer before UVA/UVB damage occurs than a person with no sunscreen. This is how SPF factor’s are designated. The key to proper sun protection is the reapplication throughout the day. There is NO one miracle sun screen that covers and protects you completely throughout the day.
Lauren/Lisa: What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays?
Dr. Goldfaden: UVA makes up
about 90% of the UV radiation that reaches the earth on a daily basis – visible light that we see. UVB makes up the remaining 10% and is strongest during the peek hours of the day (11-3pm) when the sun is at its strongest. Although both cause skin damage and have been shown to lead to cancer, UVB rays penetrate deep into the dermis layers and causes the actual sun burn, redness and damage to the deep layers within the skin.
Lauren/Lisa: What is the difference between Chemical and Physical Sunscreen? Is one more preferable than the other?
Dr. Goldfaden: It’s important to understand the difference between Physical and Chemical SPF levels: Physical sunscreens protect your skin from the sun by deflecting or blocking the sun’s rays. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun’s rays. Some chemical filters can scatter sun rays, but still mostly just absorb them. Physcial sunscreens have been approved from the FDA and show no issues at all. Chemical sunscreens are also safe depending on the type of ingredient – some chemical filters generate free radicals which can cause skin damage, irritation, and aging. For optimal protection, a sunscreen that offers both physical and chemical protection (and the chemical ingredient has been approved) are the safest.
Lauren/Lisa: How often should you reapply SPF throughout the day?
Dr. Goldfaden: Reapplication every hour when in direct sunlight and up to three times daily (AM/Mid—day/Afternoon) when going in and out of indoor/outdoor areas. As a general rule of thumb: if you are going to be outside for 20 minutes or more, SPF is recommended and I always recommend an SPF of at least a 30 in any case.
Lauren/Lisa: There are so many different SPF levels on the market. What are the rules? What is the highest level that we should be applying on our skin?
Dr. Goldfaden: The FDA has put in strict enforcements and regulatory measures to ensure that all SPF products follow a mandate the use of certain sun blocking agents, that have been FDA approved, are being used in products that claim SPF factors. Furthermore, the FDA outlines the template that companies must use in disclaiming the products safety and SPF legalizations on the secondary packaging. This ensures that all companies are following the same guidelines, restrictions and safety for our marketplace and consumers. The most notable and recent change is the use of SPF levels greater that 50. You won’t see sunscreens on the market in a year from now claiming SPF levels of 100. There is no substantiation that shows further sun blocking treatment benefits from a 50 to 100.
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