Ah! The sun is out, birds are chirping, waves clashing and you've pulled out your bikini. But, is the sunscreen packed in the beach bag too?
If you're like us, you're scramming around trying to get your hands on the latest and safest sunscreen. There are 2 different UV lights, UVA and UVB. In terms of SPF, we are protecting ourselves from UVB rays. And if you aren't familiar, SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. All of which is represented by a number 15,30,50, sometimes even 100!
So what do all of the numbers mean?
Initially, it comes from an equation that estimates the time you'd be able to stay in the sun without burning. Here's how you calculate that number. Minutes to burn without sunscreen x SPF number = maximum sun exposure time. If you're no math wiz, I'd go with the higher number as it'll protect for a longer period of time. But, keep in mind that sunscreen should be applied with a generous amount all over for maximum protection!
But, I have darker skin. Do I still need sunscreen?
YES. The answer is always, yes.
UV rays will penetrate regardless of ethnicity and skin color, so it is best to always use sunscreen at all times. “Dark skin does have built-in SPF,” says Amy Wechsler, M.D., a dermatologist based in New York City and assistant clinical professor of dermatology, SUNY Downstate Medical College. But, just because you're darker and can produce more melanin, that doesn't mean that SPF should be completely ignored. Here's why:
Melanin increases in response to sun exposure and skin gets darker, but that “tan” isn’t protecting your skin; it’s a sign of sun damage. “UV exposure causes cell damage, and the body produces more melanin as a protective mechanism,” says David Bank, M.D., director of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery in Westchester County, N.Y.
What happens if I don't use SPF?
Of course, we're all aware of becoming sunburnt in the event of not wearing sunscreen. But, the list can go for miles about the potential harms from not protecting your skin from harmful rays. Here's a few to think about:
- Skin cancer.
- Dark spots.
- Rapid skin aging.
So be sure to SPF up!
I don't like chemicals. Are there any natural/vegan options?
Did you honestly think we'd leave you without a sunscreen cheatsheet? Here's some of our favorites below!
There are so many sunscreens out there can protect you while protecting the Earth as well. What are some of your favorite? We'd love to add them to the list!
The NOLA Team