As much as we love sunshine, without proper protection the sun’s rays can cause damage to our skin. Caitrin Stranding, MPAS, PA-C, shared some insightful information about sunscreens and SPF (sun protection factor), in order to help us make the best decisions for our skin while enjoying the outdoors this summer!
The purpose of sunscreen is to protect the skin from the harmful UV light emitted from the sun.
Physical (also known as mineral) sunscreen creates a natural barrier that deflects UV rays away from the surface of the skin, prohibiting UV rays from penetrating into the skin and causing damage. The active ingredients in physical sunscreens are the minerals zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Chemical sunscreen penetrates into the skin, absorbs UV rays, converts them to heat, and then releases them from the body. Chemical sunscreen may include the active ingredients avobenzone, octinoxate, or oxybenzone.
Mineral sunscreens are less irritating than chemical sunscreens and are considered a “cleaner” skincare product.
Mineral sunscreens are best for babies, children, and anyone with sensitive skin. However, these physical sunscreens tend to be more opaque and more difficult to blend into the skin. I recommend trying a tinted mineral based sunscreen for daily use, which typically allows for a more even and smooth application.
Chemical sunscreens are often more water-resistant, and therefore longer lasting, for those who are active playing sports or swimming. Chemical sunscreens also absorb into the skin more rapidly than physical sunscreens.
You should always choose a sunscreen that is broad spectrum, which means it provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
To put it simply, UVB rays are responsible for sunburns.
UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and contribute to long-term skin damage including an increased risk of skin cancer, “brown spots”, and wrinkles. UVA rays pass through clouds and windows, so they can cause damage even on a cloudy day or while driving in a car, which is why it is so important to apply sunscreen daily.
- Choose a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 or higher
- Apply to skin 15 minutes prior to sun exposure
- Reapply every 1-2 hours, every hour if swimming or sweating
- If you have acne prone skin, choose a sunscreen that is oil-free and non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores
- If you have sensitive skin, choose a mineral/physical sunscreen that is paraben-free and fragrance-free
- Sun protective clothing and accessories may be worn in addition to sunscreen. This includes: wide brimmed hats | UV 400-protected sunglasses | ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) clothing with a rating of at least 50
Summer is the time to be outdoors and safely enjoy the warm weather!
Caitrin Standring is a Board-Certified Physician Assistant in Dermatology and a Diplomate Fellow of the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of California Santa Barbara, earning a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Caitrin continued to graduate school and received her Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies from Concordia University of Wisconsin. Prior to joining our practice, she worked as a Physician Assistant at a private dermatology practice in downtown Chicago as well as the northwest suburbs.
Caitrin is trained in cosmetic, medical, and surgical dermatology, and manages a full spectrum of dermatologic conditions for patients of all ages. She performs skin cancer screenings and treats both acute and chronic conditions, as well as performing cosmetic Botox and Platelet Rich Plasma injections. Her professional memberships include the Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants and the Illinois Society of Dermatology Physician Assistants.
Caitrin lived in California for over 20 years but returned to her Midwestern roots, residing in Chicago with her husband and daughter. When she is not seeing patients, Caitrin enjoys cooking, being active, spending time with her family, and attending college football games (go Badgers!)
To schedule an appointment with Caitrin, call (708) 482-3213 or request an appointment by clicking here!