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Sunscreen 101

UVB-Screening Sunscreen and Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen

30, 40, 50, 80 SPF... which one is better suited to protect you? Your makeup has SPF, but is it enough to protect you? What does SPF really mean? The information or depth of information given to the consumer really makes it confusing in selecting something that not only feels good, but provides sufficient protection. Therefore, let’s break it down and simplify it:

There are 3 types of radiation we are potentially exposed to: UVA, UVB and UVC, with the majority of UVC being absorbed by the ozone layer and not affecting our skin. UVA radiation penetrates the skin more deeply than UVB and has been known to play a major role in skin aging, wrinkling, and skin cancer. UVA radiation damages specific skin cells called keratinocytes, which are located in the basal layer of the epidermis, where most skin cancers occur. Tanning beds emit primarily UVA rays (up to 12 times stronger than outdoor exposure) so whether in a tanning bed or outdoors, exposure to UVA rays will damage cellular DNA. UVA can be broken down into UVA 1 and UVA 2. UVA 1 has a longer wavelength and penetrates the deepest as compared to UVA 2, which is a short wavelength with more superficial penetration. UVB has superficial penetration of the skin and is the cause for skin reddening and sunburn. Understanding what we are trying to protect ourselves from is only half the battle. How do you select a product that will provide you with adequate protection when most sunscreens have so many ingredients on their labels?

Sunscreens are usually a combination of “chemical absorbers” and “physical filters”. Most UV filters are chemicals, forming a thin, protective film on the skin to absorb the UV radiation before it penetrates into the skin. The physical sunscreens are insoluble particles that reflect UV away from the skin. There are many chemical absorbers with the majority protecting against UVB. The exceptions are Avobenzone which protects against UVA 1, dioxybenzone, ecamsule, meradimate, oxybenzone, and sulisobenzone all provide UVA 2 protection. Physical filters include zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide with zinc oxide providing protection against UVA 1 & 2 and UVB. The term “broad-spectrum” sunscreen indicates coverage for both UVA and UVB. Therefore, rather than looking at the ingredients, seeking out a “broad-spectrum” product with sufficient SPF helps to reduce confusion and frustration when seeking an appropriate sunscreen.

SPF stands for sun protection factor and indicates the amount of protection from UV rays and duration of exposure before burning. For someone wearing a SPF of 15, it would take them 15 times longer in the sun to burn as compared to no use of sunscreen. SPF 15 filters out 93% of UV rays as compared to SPF 30 filtering 97% and SPF 50 filtering 98% of harmful UV rays.

At Lasky, we recommend only broad-spectrum sunscreens from both the SkinCeuticals and Obagi product lines. Both provide sufficient coverage for daily or active outdoor activity. Haven’t tried our sunscreens? Mention reading this article and receive $5 off either one.

For more information, contact our staff at 310-552-8010

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