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Skincare 101

Why Wear a SPF Sunscreen Year Round | SPF Facts & How Sunscreen Works

Why Wear Sunscreen Year Round?

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The Protector SPF 30 Cream
The Perfector
The Protector SPF 30 Cream
The Perfector 4-in-1 Skin Perfecting Silk


It’s usually an “oops” moment for most of us that occurs sometime in our late 20s when we feel like we’re finally ready to start using sunscreen. We notice signs of aging and feel that integrating an SPF into our routine will help curb further damage. We applaud ourselves for noticing, go to the drugstore, arbitrarily select one and try to remember to apply it daily (anyone else or just me?). For those who self-identify as a sunscreen late-bloomer, or if you thought you knew everything there was to know about sun damage, read on. We broke it all down including exactly what “SPF” stands for.  


What does an SPF do?

The only goal of a sunscreen is to help prevent UVA and UVB rays from reaching/penetrating the skin. Any other benefits your SPF products tout are just an added bonus.

What's the difference between UVA and UVB?

The sun emits UVA and UVB rays (we all throw these acronyms around like any of us understands what they are), but to refresh: UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB and are the primary cause of sun-related skin aging visible via sagging, wrinkling, sun spots and that leathery look. UVB rays are responsible for sunburns, however, there are 500x more UVA than UVB rays in sunlight. So, the effects of the damage we can’t see (from UVA), are far more numerous.

Does the number actually matter (SPF 15, 30, 50, 75)?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, and the standard goes: SPF 15 protects against 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 protects against 97% and SPF 50 protects against 98%. From there, it’s hard for products to guarantee a higher protection. Plus, the efficacy of your sunscreen also depends on how well you apply it and how often you reapply. Experts and dermatologists recommend reapplying every 2 hours when you’re being exposed to sunlight, and yes, that includes indoor office buildings where the rays can filter through glass windows. Studies have been conducted with participants using an SPF 100 and it outperformed SPF 50 in terms of visible sunburn damage, but no one can claim for sure that SPF 100 protects against 100% of UVB rays.

What’s the difference between chemical and physical sunscreens?

This one can be tricky to remember especially when you’re standing in a drugstore isle staring at 50+ options, but physical sunscreens traditionally lay on top of the skin (leaving that white, chalky residue behind) and deflect the sun’s rays. Chemical sunscreens absorb into the skin like a moisturizer and work deeper down, absorbing the rays to prevent them from harming the skin. Physical sunscreens contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, and you can apply it and go whereas chemical sunscreen should be applied 15-20 minutes prior to sun exposure (giving it time to absorb). It’s a matter of personal preference which one you use; some skin types react better to one over the other.

Is there a way to prevent photoaging?

Photoaging refers to premature aging of the skin due to overexposure to UVA/UVB rays. You can usually tell when someone has experienced overexposure as their skin may look particularly leathery, yellow and spotty. Using a daily SPF however not only helps prevent future damage but it can help rewind the existing effects of photoaging. SPF selection is key though, you want a sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays, aka Broad Spectrum. A UVB sunscreen will not protect your skin from UVA rays, and those are the rays that cause photoaging. So, it’s important to check your labels.

Do I have to use sunscreen every day, even if it’s cloudy?

We’ve all been there, looking at the cloudy sky thinking, “oh good, I don’t have to apply SPF today,” but it’s a big old myth. UVA and UVB rays are just as harmful on cloudy days as they are on sunny. Being able to feel heat from the sun is not an indication of how powerful the rays are. If ONLY that were how it worked. But this is why it’s important to layer up with SPF every day and reapply every few hours if you’re going to be consistently in the sun.


If my sunscreen has other benefits, is it still a true sunscreen?

Yes! This is why we always love using the sunscreens that pull double and triple duty, one less step in our AM routine. Remember, sunscreens are FDA-regulated and go through rigorous testing procedures in order to claim their sun protectant factors, so you can shop with confidence knowing that a Broad-Spectrum BB cream for example will give you the coverage and protection you’re looking for without sacrificing skin safety.


The Protector SPF 30 Cream
The Perfector