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How To Protect Your Skin: Must-Knows for More Effective Sunscreen Use

Updated: 4 days ago

Most people don't use enough sunscreen to protect their skin. —Jenny GK
How to protect your skin: must-knows for effective sunscreen use; CK and GK podcast

Importance of Sunscreen Usage

Isn't it interesting how often we tend to forget to put on sunscreen or maybe even skip it altogether? Sure, we're all guilty of it from time to time, but did you know that sunscreen is like your skin's best friend? Yep, it shields your skin from the sun's intense UV rays, reduces the risk of skin cancer, and prevents premature skin aging. And it's not just suitable for those sunny beach days, but also the cloudy ones because UV rays don't take a day off!


During their discussion in episode 75, Caitlin Kindred and Jenny GK, like most of us, acknowledged their occasional forgetfulness about utilizing sunscreen correctly. Both agreed that wearing a sun hat, though trendy, isn't sufficient protection from UV damage. And both acknowledged the lazy habit of only using their face makeup for sunscreen—a big no-no. Relatable, don't you think? Let's get into the basics of effective sunscreen use.


A Vocab Lesson: Understanding UV Radiation and SPF

Let's get into some skincare trivia - UV radiation isn't one size fits all. There's UVA and UVB.

  • Think of UVA as the 'Aging' rays, responsible for those troubling long-term skin damage and aging.

  • Now, UVB, is the 'Burning' guy, the one behind skin reddening and sunburn.

  • When you see SPF (Sun Protection Factor) on your sunscreen, it measures how well the sunscreen protects your skin from UVB rays.

Knowledge is power, isn't it?


During their talk, Caitlin and Jenny dug deeper into the UVA-UVB conundrum and the SPF mystery. They debunked misconceptions like SPF indicating the sun-blocking percentage or dictating the degree of tanning—quite eye-opening!


Mineral Sunscreen and How it Works

Diving into the world of sunscreens, you'll find two main types: chemical and mineral (or physical).

  • Mineral sunscreen forms a protective layer on your skin that reflects or bounces off UV rays like a mirror. You'll usually find ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide in them.

    • The upside is they're less likely to clog pores and thus, great for sensitive skin. Magic, isn't it?

    • The downside? They often leave a whiteish tint on the skin because their ingredients are designed to sit on the skin to block UV rays. If you’re old school, you can think of mineral sunscreens as ‘sunblock’—like what a lifeguard might wear on their nose in a ‘70s movie.

  • Chemical sunscreen contains ingredients that need to be absorbed by the skin to be effective against UV rays. The chemicals are not harmful to your skin.

    • These are less likely to leave whiteish streaks on your skin because they fully absorb into the skin.

Caitlin pointed out that the term ‘sunblock’ is no longer used on sun protection packaging. Instead, the term 'mineral sunscreen' is used, which adds an extra layer (pun intended!) to the discussion on sun protection. The term wasn't in Jenny's vocabulary before, and it's likely some of us are in the same boat. But as they say, every day's a school day!



The Importance of Broad Spectrum and Water Resistance

Broad Spectrum and Water Resistance - sound like complex tech jargon? Not really. Simply put, a broad-spectrum sunscreen protects your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. It's like your all-in-one shield.

As for water resistance, remember that no sunscreen can be completely waterproof. However, a water-resistant sunscreen can stick with you for about 40 to 80 minutes in the water. Cool, right?

In their banter, Caitlin and Jenny brought up the importance of 'broad-spectrum' and 'water resistance', terms that now hold more weight thanks to their detailed explanation. Caitlin particularly mentioned the need to reapply sunscreen after a swim or a sweaty outdoor session, underlining the importance of continuous protection.


Effective Sunscreen Use for Everyone

Have you heard the common misconception that only fair-skinned individuals need sunscreen? Well, it's time to knock that myth out of the park. The truth is everyone, regardless of skin color, can encounter damaging effects from UV radiation, including skin cancer. So, sunscreen should be everyone's daily skincare essential!

During the podcast, Caitlin and Jenny laid stress on the need for everyone to use sunscreen. They were quick to highlight the fact that sun damage is not selective. Referencing a quote from dermatologist Dr. Derek Phillips, Caitlin stressed that even less common skin cancers can occur in less visible areas, driving home the fact that everyone could benefit from going generous with the SPF.


Don’t Forget

Let’s get into some key points for the non-dermatologists around here:

  • Check the labels on your sunscreen products to ensure they are broad-spectrum and provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

  • Look for sunscreens with a minimum SPF of 30, which blocks approximately 97% of UVB rays.

  • Apply sunscreen generously to all exposed areas of your body, using about 1 ounce (a shot glass full) of sunscreen for your entire body.

  • Don't forget to apply sunscreen to often overlooked areas such as the tops of your feet and ears.

  • Consider using powder sunscreens for areas like your part or ears to avoid the mess of traditional sunscreen.

  • Use makeup sponges or brushes to apply sunscreen to children's faces, avoiding direct hand contact.

  • Remember to reapply sunscreen every 40 to 80 minutes when in the water or after drying off.

  • Replace any sunscreen labeled as waterproof with water-resistant options, as no sunscreen is truly waterproof.

  • If you'll be snorkeling or swimming in areas with ocean wildlife, make sure to use a reef-safe sunscreen that does not contain oxybenzone.

  • Educate yourself on the difference between sunscreen and sunblock

    • sunscreen = chemical sunscreen, which absorbs UV radiation

    • sunblock = mineral sunscreen, which blocks/reflects UV radiation (and is no longer labeled as 'sunblock'!)


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