Do Sunscreens Harm Your Skin? What is SPF? Sunblock FAQs

Using a good quality sunscreen is important when you go out in the sun. As a starting point, it should be broad-spectrum, meaning that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. It should also have a suitable SPF. If you plan to be outdoors for a long time, this is particularly important. You should also look for a product that is fragrance-free or has a mild scent, and better if your sunscreen is water-resistant as well.

Want to know more about sunscreens? Have other questions in your mind? Continue reading as we have answered most of the sunscreen questions in this FAQs section.

Do Sunscreens Harm Your Skin What is SPF Sunscreen FAQs

Q: Do sunscreen Creams Harm Your Skin?

A: Depending upon the type and frequency of use, sunscreen may or may not harm your skin. New research shows that one of the primary ingredients in sunscreens, oxybenzone, may be harmful to your health.

The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit research and advocacy organization, recently released a study showing that oxybenzone can penetrate the skin and enter the body. EWG also found that oxybenzone is linked to hormone disruption, cell damage, allergies, and cell mutations. The EWG recommends looking for products with a mineral active sunscreen, like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, as alternatives to chemical sunscreens.

Q: What Makes Up a Sunscreen?

A: Sunscreens are composed of two basic ingredients: the active ingredient which is either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide (sometimes both) and the inactive ingredients such as emulsifiers, preservatives, etc.

The first thing you should look for in a sunscreen is broad-spectrum. You should look for a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. The best sunscreens will also contain a few of the following:
1. Zinc Oxide
2. Titanium Dioxide
3. Avobenzone
4. Mexoryl

Q: What Does SPF Mean?

A: SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It is the level of protection your sunscreen provides from the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.

The number indicates that if you normally burn in ten minutes, it would take ten times longer, or one hundred minutes to burn if you are using an SPF 15 sunscreen.

So, with an SPF 15, you can stay in the sun fifteen times longer than you could without protection, before burning.

Q: What Kind Of SPF Do I Need?

A: It depends on your skin type and the season. For me, I wear SPF 50 on my face SPF30 on my body all year around.

You can get any type of sunscreen you want and there are many different types. It all depends on your skin, what type of physical protection you want, and what type of chemical protection you want.

Q: What Is the Difference Between Physical and Chemical Sunscreens?

A: Physical sunscreens are titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide and protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Chemical sunscreens absorb UVB rays only and are typically oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, and homosalate.

Physical Protection: There is Broad Spectrum UVB and Broad Spectrum UVA. UVB is the solar radiation that causes sunburn, and UVA is the solar radiation that causes aging. You should aim for broad-spectrum protection from both of these types of radiation.

Chemical Protection: There is Oxybenzone and Octinoxate. Oxybenzone is a hormone disruptor, and Octinoxate is a carcinogen. You don’t want to apply either of these chemicals to your skin. I avoid both of them by looking for chemical-free sunscreen.

The EWG website is a great resource for finding a sunscreen that is free of all harmful chemicals. They rate sunscreens on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the safest and 0 being unsafe. Sunscreens with a rating of 1-2 are considered to be safe to use. Sunscreens with a rating of 10+ are considered to be extremely safe to use.

Q: When Do You Use a Physical or a Chemical Sunscreen?

A: So, if you are planning to be outside all day, from morning till evening, you should use physical sunscreen. If you are going to be outside for a short period of time, you can use chemical sunscreen.

Q: Can You Get a Sunburn From Using a Sunscreen?

A: Yes, because even with an SPF 100 sunscreen, you can still burn on a cloudy day, or if you have been in the water, or if you have been sweating a lot, or if you have been using a medication that makes you more sensitive to the sun.

Also, remember that an SPF of 100 or higher offers no more protection than SPF 15. SPF is a number in minutes that shows how long the sunscreen will continue to provide sun protection. Staying in the sun over this period of time without reapplying the sunscreen will result in a sunburn.

Q: How Often Should You Use Sunscreen?

A: Apply sunscreen generously to all exposed skin, 20-30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Sunscreen should also be reapplied immediately after towel drying, or at least every two hours.

Q: Is It Safe to Use Sunscreen Year-Round?

A: Yes, unless your dermatologist advises you not to. If you have a condition that makes you more susceptible to the sun, it is highly recommended that you use sunscreen year-round.

Q: Will the Sunscreen Pill I’m Taking Protect me From Skin Cancer?

A: No. The pill is not designed to protect against cancer. It’s designed to prevent sunburn and skin irritation. It may seem like a cheap alternative to sunscreen, but it’s not.

Q: Does Sunscreen Have an Expiration Date?

A: Yes, and it’s very important to read the label and use the product before the expiration date listed.

Q: How Should You Choose a Sunscreen?

A: When choosing a sunscreen, pay attention to the SPF. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, and one that offers UVA protection.

Q: Does Sunscreen Cause Wrinkles?

A: No. No research or study has yet shown that a sunscreen may cause wrinkles. In fact, adequate sunscreen use may delay the appearance of wrinkles.

Q: Does Sunscreen Work on Kids?

A: Yes, they need protection from the sun as much as adults. While choosing a sunscreen for kids, make sure you choose a sunscreen that is suitable for children and is labeled as such.

Q: Can I Wear Makeup After Applying Sunscreen?

A: Absolutely! I wear makeup every day, and I wear sunscreen every day and it works just fine. The only thing to avoid is applying sunscreen to your face while you have makeup on.

Q: How Do You Apply Sunscreen?

A: Apply sunscreen before you go outside. If you’re using a spray, spray it on your hand and then apply it to your face. If you’re using a lotion, rub it in your hands first, and then massage it into your face.

Related: Do This 15 Minutes Before Going to Bed For a Perfect Skin Complexion

Q: Does Sunscreen Cause Acne?

A: No. But if you are acne-prone, it is best to apply sunscreen first, before putting on any other product, and then let it dry before putting on your makeup.

Q: Do You Use Sunscreen in Winter?

A: Whether it’s winter or summer, sunscreen offers protection from harmful solar radiations. The protection as very little to do with outside temperature if any, and has everything to do with providing protection from IR, and UV radiations coming from the sun.

Q: What Is the Best Way to Apply Sunscreen?

A: You should apply sunscreen liberally and evenly to all exposed areas of skin, before exposure to the sun.

Q: How Long Does It Take for Sunscreen to Work?

A: Sunscreen should be applied at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. But, for some reason, if you fail to apply sunscreen, and have to go out immediately, still apply it to ensure you get some level of protection.

Q: Is Sunscreen Waterproof?

A: No matter whether the label of a particular sunscreen says it’s water-resistant or not, no sunscreen is waterproof or sweatproof. The FDA no longer accepts these labels.

Q: Can You Use Sunscreen If You Are Pregnant?

A: Using sunscreen has no harmful effects even if you are pregnant. Some health professionals highly recommend applying sunscreen, particularly if you are pregnant. This is because, while the sun rays don’t directly impact your baby’s skin, getting higher doses of solar radiation as a pregnant woman may have an impact on your baby.


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