How does Sunscreens Work? Check this Complete Guide to be an Expert on it

Sunscreens have been in everyone´s mouth the past year. We are being more conscious of the damage that our skin may suffer due to sun exposure. But how does sunscreen work? Are you aware of the different types of sunscreen? Such as physical blockers or chemical absorbers. Understanding the possible damage of sun on our skin can led to thoughtful decisions when buying sunscreen. Is sunscreen bad for you? Those questions and more will be answered in the next paragraphs. Check this complete guide to be an expert on it :)

Purpose of Sunscreens

Are sunscreens bad for you? Not at all! Sunscreens are responsible for protecting our delicate skin from the sun. When you go to a pharmacy you can find them in the skin care products rack. Sunscreens are made of active ingredients that end up protecting our skin cells from the ultraviolet radiation of the sun. That radiation is composed of:

  • UVA rays (ultraviolet A): They are linked to skin aging.

  • UVB rays (ultraviolet B): They are associated to skin burning.

  • UVC rays (ultraviolet c): These rays do not reach the earth´s atmosphere because they are absorbed by the ozone layer. They are the most harmful rays.

Those rays can led to skin cancer, skin burning and skin aging. The most important thing to do is prevent those damages at all cost! Luckily, sunscreens exist to save us from that :) Sunscreens can be made in three different ways: by combining chemical ingredients or physical active ingredients, or a combination of both to prevent UV damage in our skin. We will explain more about them later.

We can find sunscreens in different formulas: sprays, gels, sticks, lotions, powders and oils. The variety available in the market allows skin protection for everyone. Here you can find 10 Sun Protection Food You Should Include in Your Diet :)

How Does Sunscreens Work?

As I mentioned before, sunscreens can be made in three different ways. In all of them, the presence of chemical ingredients or physical active ingredients is present. Let´s see how sunscreens work!

  1. Physical sunscreens: Also known as mineral sunscreens, they basically act as physical blockers of sun. Do you know that white color in walls reflects light? Well, those minerals reflect UV rays off of your skin. Some minerals are: titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
  2. Chemical sunscreens: These sunscreens are made of chemical active ingredients like homosalate and avobenzone. Instead of reflecting the UV rays off of your skin, those sunscreens absorb UV radiation by means of their chemical bonds. It is good to know that when UV rays are absorbed by those bonds, the ingredients of sunscreens start acting and release heat.

So, How does sunscreens work? That has been easily answered above :)


SPF: Is There a Difference Between 30 SPF and 50 SPF?

To continue answering how does sunscreen work? We need to learn what FPS stands for below. The first thing that comes to our mind when thinking of sunscreen is the different types of protection available in the market. SPF stands for "Sun protection factor".

To answer to our question, there is a difference between 30 SPF and 50 SPF. The higher the number, the stronger the sun protection on our skin. Dermatologist recommend using the higher protection because we do not tend to apply it correctly on your body and our face. To compensate that incorrect coverage, sunscreens with SPF 50 are the best choice :) It is incredible to learn how sunscreens work!

Lately, there has been a campaign of sunscreen in social media. Are sunscreens bad for you? Not at all! Cosmeticians recommend applying two fingers of sunscreen on our face. That is the ideal measure of sunscreen needed to completely cover our face. I tend to apply in as soon as I wake up so I don´t forget :) Using sunscreen is great, but unless you apply it every two hours it won´t protect your skin at all. Set an alarm on your phone and reapply it!


Are Sunscreens Bad for You? Let´s Stop Spreading that Myth!

Sunscreens are not bad at all for your skin or body. How does sunscreens work? There is scientific evidence that supports they results in preventing skin cancer damage and skin aging. In the United States, skin cancer is the most common cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lives. That´s why sunscreens are very important. How does sunscreens work? The skin cancer foundation states that sunscreens decrease strongly the risk of skin precancers and skin cancers.

Do you want more evidence to know that sunscreens AREN´T bad for you? Skin cancer foundation also explains that a regular daily use of sunscreens SFP 15 can reduce the risk of developing melanoma cancer by 50 percent and squamous cell carcinoma by 40 percent. Protecting your skin and saving your life takes you less than 5 minutes on your morning routine :)

Apart from the evidence of renowned sites, all sunscreens are tested in laboratories and by dermatologists who end up approving their use. They undergo lots of tests to be safe for humans.

Who Should Use Sunscreens? How does Sunscreens Work?

EVERYONE should use sunscreens! From babies from six months on to older people. There is a myth going around that you should only use sunscreen when you are exposed to sun. But that´s far from being true! If you live in a house with big and open windows or you work next to one you should use sunscreen too. UVB and UVA rays impact everywhere, indoors and outdoors :)

The good thing would be using sunscreens since we are babies, but if that is not the case, it is never late to start incorporating it into your lifestyle. How does sunscreens work? Babies should use sunscreen from 6 months on. Under that age, they should not be exposed to the sun because their skin is very sensitive. You can buy sun-protective clothing online that will cover their body and stop UV rays from entering into their cells. Remember to keep them in cool areas away from the sun :)

How Much Sunscreen is Needed to Cover my Skin?

As I mentioned before, it is good to use your two fingers to apply sunscreen on your face. That measure will be enough for your face. Regarding your body, dermatologists recommend applying one ounce of sunscreen on your body. Another measure is one teaspoon for each leg, arm, body back and more. Your neck and hands should be covered too!


5 Reasons to Use Sunscreens:

  • Strongly reduces your chances of sunburn: when you apply the right amount of sunscreen, your skin won´t suffer from sunburn although you expose yourself to the sun. On the contrary, when you expose to the sun without sunscreen and on risky hours such as midday, your skin will be damaged. The color red means inflammation and disturbance of our skin cells which may lead to skin cancer in the future. Always go to the dermatologist when you suffer from sunburn.
  • Prevents aging' signs like wrinkles: Our skin is full of collagen and elastin. To be more precise, skin has got three layers: epidermis (outermost layer of skin), the dermis and the hypodermis. The epidermis grants a waterproof barrier to our skin, protecting it from pollutants. Repeated exposure to sun without sunscreen protection can led to the damage of our epidermis and the loss of collagen and elastin. That damage will be shown by wrinkles, fine lines and more.
  • Say good bye to skin discoloration: You may have seen people with some areas of their face that lose their color, they are probably the result of the unprotected exposure to sun. Those areas are known as "sun spots". Using sunscreen regularly strongly reduces the change of having sun spots :)
  • Avoid inflammation: If you suffer from acne or rosacea you know how it feels to have your face hot. Sun can cause inflammation if you do not use sunscreen to protect your skin cells. Choose sunscreens that have soft ingredients if you have sensitive skin, it should hydrate it and protect it at the same time.
  • You can use sunscreen if you swim on the sea or in the pool. Technology has shown incredible progress and now sunscreens are water resistant. Most of them last from 30 to 40 minutes. You should always reapply it as soon as you get out of water. I recommend spray sunscreens for children because they are easy to apply. Protecting your kids from young age will result in incredible skins when they grow up.

In this article we have explained how does sunscreens work? Are sunscreens bad for you? All that information will help you to be more conscious about sun exposure and luckily you will make changes in your daily routine. The complete guide to become an expert on it consists of: the purpose of sunscreens, difference between SPF 30 and SPF 50, myth of sunscreens, who should use sunscreens and five reasons to use it regularly :)

How much screen is needed? That is also answered in this guide!

Belen Molina

I am a passionate person about healthy food and the environment. Translator/copywriter.

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