April 11, 2014

Healthy Skin From Head To Toe: Part 2

Spring is finally here! And it took long enough... The warmer weather means shedding those clunky winter layers and letting your skin breathe! In this Healthy Skin series, I'll be talking about what you'll need in the coming months to protect your skin from head to toe. (This means a lot of sunscreen!)

I already touched base on what kinds of ingredients and claims to look out for in your SPF to make sure that you're getting the most protection out of your product, so now how do you actually apply it?

My clients often ask me, "How much sunscreen do you need for the face?" The answer is pretty simple.

You need a 1/4-inch strip of SPF down the length of each of your first and middle fingers, which should then be applied from your forehead down to your collarbone, your entire neck (including the back), and the tops of your ears.

That's about a dime-sized worth of product. Seriously. Yes, you need that much. You must remember that SPF is dose-dependent. If you use too little product, you won't actually get the protection you think you're getting.

Now that you know how to apply your SPF, how often should you reapply? The answer can be found in the SPF#.  Let's say you go out in the sun with no protection at all, and you burn in 10 minutes. This means if you apply an SPF of 15, you can now go out in the sun without burning for 10 minutes times 15 = 150 minutes of protection. The same formula goes for SPF30 (10 minutes times 30 = 300 minutes of protection.)

In my professional opinion, it should stop there. With sweat, skin cells falling off all day and wear and tear, there's really no way you can count on being protected for much longer than 300 minutes. Even if you use a SPF45, 450 minutes is just too long to wait to reapply your sunscreen.

There is a difference in protection between the SPF numbers other than the reapplication time, but it's so little it's almost meaningless. The difference in actual protection between SPF15 and SPF30 is 2%.  Two percent! This is why the FDA is banning the higher numbers in sunscreen; they're giving people a false sense of security.

The best way to protect yourself from the ravages and dangers of sun damage is to reapply an SPF15 or 30 (whichever feels more comfortable to you) every two hours. Keep a tube of sunscreen in your purse so that you can reapply it to your neck and the tops of your ears (especially if your hair is short or in an up-do). The top or back of the ears are among the most common places skin cancer is found, so make sure you don't skip those areas.

If you're wearing makeup and you don't want to apply a lotion on top, this is the best time to use a makeup that has SPF built in. I'm not entirely crazy about powder or liquid foundation being your only means of protection because the ingredients that filter out UVB rays need to penetrate the skin and makeup is designed to just sit on top.  Mineral makeup is perfect for reapplying an SPF to just the face when out all day or at lunch when you're at work and you want to go out.

By the way, the best way to prevent crow's feet? Nice, large, Jackie O-style UV protection sunglasses. There's nothing like 'em! Wear these sunglasses 365 days a year and you won't need an eye cream for years, I promise you. Just make sure it says "UV Protection" on the label and don't assume sunglasses will protect you just because they're dark.

Now that I've covered SPF sunscreen for the face, I'll be talking about SPF sunscreen for the body in my next post! Stay tuned for the last part of the Healthy Skin From Head To Toe series!

Like this series on SPF so far ?  Please share!