what you need to know about sun damage and how to protect your skin
No shock here: Daily SPF use is the singular BEST defense against signs of aging.
When asked “do you need SPF daily?” many people would confidently shake their heads: They think that SPF is only necessary for the weekends, when you hit the beach, run outside, have a picnic, or relax by the pool. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, because the sun doesn’t take a break from sending its harmful UV rays through the atmosphere, not even in winter. UV rays can also penetrate glass, meaning you can experience skin damage just by sitting near a window… more on that below.)
But the good news is that it’s easy to stay protected from these skin-aging and -damaging UV rays. SPF takes less time to apply than brushing your teeth, and you do that at least twice daily (we hope).
Still, we don’t want to leave you with a lesson without backing it up with information. So, here are the most important things to know about using SPF and getting maximum benefits from your sunscreen products.
"I want to look 80 when I'm 50"
- No man ever
When it comes to sun protection, there's a lot of acronyms and terminology, so let's start by breaking that down:
UVA vs. UVB
- UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and cause ‘photoaging’, which is what we refer to when we say that the sun ‘ages’ your skin—think wrinkles, dark spots, rough patches, discoloration, dehydration, and more.
- UVB rays have a shorter wavelength than UVA rays, and instead burn the surface of the skin and can lead to skin cancer.
Think A for Aging, and B for Burns
UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and cause ‘photoaging’—think wrinkles, dark spots, rough patches, discoloration, dehydration, and more.
UVB rays have a shorter wavelength than UVA rays, and burn the surface of the skin and can lead to skin cancer.
But what does the SPF number mean?
SPF is shorthand for ‘sun protection factor’, and it indicates a product’s level of defense against UVB rays. The SPF number pertains to the protection level against UVB rays: An SPF 15 would protect you 15 times longer from sunburn than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen. An SPF 30 would protect you 30 times longer from burn.
Another way to look at the SPF number is in terms of how much protection the product provides at any given moment. Unfortunately, the numbers can be deceiving: For example, SPF 30 provides defense from 97% of the sun’s UV-B rays, while SPF 15 only shields from 93% of UV-Brays. So, just because SPF 30 is double SPF 15 on the UVB duration-shielding scale, doesn’t mean it is doubly defensive overall.
The extra 4% protection (97% vs 93%) can make a huge difference in terms of sunburn and photoaging. If you want to go even higher than 97% coverage with SPF 30, you can: An SPF 50 provides 98% coverage, and SPF 100 provides 99% coverage. Most dermatologists benchmark SPF 30 as the minimum you should apply, in order to avoid burn and photoaging.
What does "broad spectrum" mean?
Products with the "broad spectrum" label indicate the formulas protect against UVA rays. So if you're looking for protection against both sunburn and aging from, make sure you have a sunscreen that has both the broad spectrum and SPF labels.
Cardon made its daily broad-spectrum moisturizer with this “SPF 30” benchmark in mind: It provides lightweight wear, ample sun protection (SPF 30, yes), and won’t clog pores or lead to excessive sweating. And even better yet, it’s formulated with nutrient-dense cactus extract to soothe and hydrate the skin, as well as helps to reverse the aging effects of sun exposure (thanks to the Vitamin A in it).
SPF BEST PRACTICES
Here are a few general rules around proper sun protection and wearing SPF:
- Don’t apply body SPF to the face: With so many sunscreens out there specifically made for the face, it’s smart to keep separate products for your head and body. That’s because many sunscreens for the body are comedogenic, meaning they clog pores on the face and lead to breakouts, not to mention they feel sticky, greasier, and gross. The skin on your face is more sensitive and thinner than your body, so look for products that specifically formulated for your money maker. Pro-tip: Look for 2-in-1 products that combines a moisturizer with SPF to hydration and protection.
- How much sunscreen to use: The level of sun protection is negligible if you apply only a thin layer to the skin. Start by squeezing out a nickel-sized amount of SPF on your hand. Dab small amounts all over your face and neck for even coverage, and then rub it in. Don't rub it in your hands and then apply it to your face; you won't get full protection because a lot will get absorbed into your hands. For your body, the recommended amount of coverage is around two shot glasses' worth of sunscreen. Bottom line: Don’t be shy when it comes to sun protection, you can't really overdo it
- Apply 15-20 minutes before sun exposure: Your skin isn’t necessarily shielded the second you apply SPF. It takes time to absorb into the skin, so it’s wise to give it a buffer to do so. It's recommended by the FDA and dermatologists that you reapply SPF every two hours in order to maintain constant protection from UV rays.
- Apply for indoor use, too: Because those invisible, snakelike UVA rays can permeate glass, it’s still important to wear SPF indoors—particularly if you sit near a window. (Have you ever seen that image of a truck driver who has severe sun damage on the left side of his face, but not the right? That’s because he spent a career with one half of his face exposed through the window. Google it if you want a shock—and let it sit in your memory to ensure you wear SPF daily, starting now.
complete the skincare routine
End your day with a gentle deep-cleaning face wash to remove the dirt, sweat, and pollution from the day. You don’t need SPF when you sleep, so swap out the daytime SPF moisturizer for a recovery-focused night hydrator, which will help reverse any wear the skin experienced that day, and give your nighttime cellular regeneration a big boost. Cardon’s gel moisturizer was formulated with all of this in mind, as a good complement to the SPF moisturizer’s daytime wear.