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Sunscreen FAQ



Now that summer is here, it’s time to take a closer look at sunscreen.

This FAQ will answer some of the most commonly asked questions and help you make the best sunscreen selection for your skin.

What is SPF?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It is simply a measure of how much UVB protection a sunscreen provides and is noted by a number from 2 to 130. It does NOT indicate what type of UVA protection a sunscreen provides.

What Do the SPF Numbers Mean?

The SPF number is an indicator of how much UVB it blocks. No sunscreen will block 100% of UVB rays, but here’s a look at some of the most common SPF options.

  • SPF 15 – blocks 93% of UVB rays
  • SPF 30 – blocks 97% of UVB rays
  • SPF 50 – blocks 98% of UVB rays
  • SPF 100 – blocks 99% of UVB rays

In the past some medical professionals stated that SPF was an indicator of how long sunscreen offered protection, but this is really a misnomer. The skin uses of the active ingredients in a certain amount of time regardless of the SPF.

Today’s experts also say that anything over SPF 50 isn’t really going to give you anything but a false sense of security. Because of that the FDA has considered regulating the labeling of sunscreens that are listed as being above SPF 50.

What’s the Difference Between UVB and UVA?

Both are ultraviolet radiation, but they affect the skin differently.

UVB rays are what cause sunburns, and they have a carcinogenic effect on the skin. They are also the main cause of non-melanoma skin cancers. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and cause premature aging. They can also heighten the carcinogenic nature of UVB rays and can cause skin cancer on their own.

Can Sunscreen Expire?

Yes – always check the expiration date when buying sunscreen. Typically sunscreens are made to last for three years.

How Often Should I Reapply Sunscreen?

You should reapply sunscreen at least every two hours. If you’re swimming or sweating it needs to be reapplied every hour. It’s important to use sunscreen daily, even on cloudy days, because you’re likely to have short periods of exposure, and UVA rays can come through windows. Also remember that sunscreen needs a short 30-minute period to set in so apply it well in advance.

Is Sunscreen in Makeup Just as Effective?

Makeup with SPF is better than nothing, but to get the most protection sunscreen should be applied before makeup. First off, you’re probably not going to apply enough makeup to get adequate protection. Secondly, you probably won’t plan to reapply and cake on more makeup. It’s fine to use makeup that offers added protection, but a sunscreen should also be used.

Try the VIVITE Daily Facial Moisturizer with Sunscreen before applying your makeup for extra proection.

How Much Sunscreen Should I Apply?

Unfortunately, when we use sunscreen most of us don’t use enough. Studies have found that people tend to use only 25-50% of the recommended amount. This significantly diminishes how protective a sunscreen is. There’s no set amount to apply, but the skin should be well coated with the lotion. Massage it in to the skin and then apply another layer if you want to ensure that you’ve applied an adequate amount.

What Active Ingredients Should I Look for in Sunscreen?

The key is to find a sunscreen that protects against UVB and UVA rays by absorbing them. The Mayo Clinic suggests that people look for sunscreens that include the following:

UVB Protection:

  • PABA derivatives
  • Salicylates
  • Cinnamates - Octylmethoxycinnamate and Cinoxate

UVA Protection

  • Benzophenones - Oxybenzone or Sulisobenzone)
  • Avobenzone
  • Ecamsule - MexorylTM
  • Titanium Dioxide
  • Zinc Oxide

Broad-spectrum (UVB and UVA) sunscreen will combine two or more of the ingredients above.

Should I Use Sunscreen on My Lips?

Yes – there are now numerous lip balms that offer protection against UVB rays. As with sunscreen it should be reapplied regularly.

Sunscreen is the one product that will have the biggest affect on fighting the signs of aging and keeping skin healthy. To recap: buy a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher that offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Slather a good amount of sunscreen on every day and reapply the sunscreen every two hours.

Check out the VIVITE Daily Facial Moisturizer with Sunscreen to start protecting your skin.

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