Your SPF Questions, Answered

Welcome to Sun Week on ITG, a celebration dedicated to the one part of your beauty routine you can’t opt out of. (Lipstick is fun and all, but never life or death). For the next five days—and a few days next week, too—we’ll be exploring everything sun protection has to offer.

You asked, they answered. We took your 300-some comments on Tuesday’s Open Thread, plucked the most-asked queries, and fired them off to our network of dermatologists, aestheticians, and skincare-inclined friends standing by. The result is a fairly comprehensive Sunscreen FAQ, and we’re delighted to share. Let’s get into it:

Q: How do I KNOW my skin is being protected from the sun?
A: Chances are, if your skin is flawless and you see no signs of photo aging, you’ve been really diligent about protecting your skin from the damaging rays of the sun. UVA is present 365 days a year and it is the UVA that gives us the predominant symptoms of photo damage that causes aging of the skin. If you have dull, lackluster skin with irregular pigmentation, melasma, brown spots (lentigines), broken capillaries, wrinkles and loss of elasticity, it’s likely you’ve had more than a reasonable amount of unprotected sun exposure. It’s cliché, but true—you’ll know it when you see the results. Dr. Patricia Wexler, NYC-based dermatologist

Q: If you’ve been remiss about suncare, where do you start?
A: I recommend an SPF 30 from October through April and an SPF 46 from May through September. Always broad spectrum. SPF with antioxidants tend to be more stable. Obviously, seek shade—especially between the hours of 11AM and 4PM. Check with your doctor to see if you are on any photo toxic medications, making you more sensitive—like doxycycline, laxatives, diuretics, or chemotherapy. Also, try clothing with a label of UPF (Ultraviolet Protective Fabric)—if worn properly, you won’t require additional SPF. Polarized glasses give necessary protection for the macula and retina. A baseball cap will give only overhead protection; instead, wear a hat with a wide brim. They can laugh at you now—you can laugh when THEY have the wrinkles! —Dr. Pat Wexler


Read the full article here.