Have you ever thought about the ingredients in your sunscreen? Most people don’t, they just know that it somehow works.
To begin understanding the different ways in which sunscreen ingredients work, you should start by understanding the differences in between the ultraviolet rays that come from the sun.
UVA rays are always present. No matter the season or the temperature, UVA rays are there. UVA rays are associated with long term damage to skin, like sun spots, damage to texture, and wrinkles.
Unlike UVA rays, UVB rays are not consistently present. UVB rays are stronger at different times of the day and in different seasons of the year. The highest level of UVB rays will occur during the hottest part of the summer and at midday. UVB rays are what cause the skin to burn. They are also the leading cause of skin cancer.
The SPF rating given to sunscreens refers to the product’s ability to protect skin from UVB rays; the most harmful. Many sunscreens provide protection from UVA rays as well, but there is not an SPF rating for UVA rays. Therefore, it is best to look for sunscreens that are considered “broad spectrum”, meaning they contain ingredients that protect against UVA and UVB rays.
Sunscreens provide two different kinds of protection; chemical and physical. Chemical protection comes from ingredients like ecamsule, which absorbs the suns UV rays without allowing them to damage to the skin.Alternatively, sunscreens that provide physical protection include ingredients that reflect the harmful rays of the sun. Most sunscreens that rely on physical barrier type protection contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to reflect the rays off the skin.
Regardless of which type of sunscreen you use, make sure to apply liberally and properly for best results.