SPF: WHEN AND WHERE TO USE

Most people learn at an early age to wear sunscreen in order to protect their skin. Yet often many forget that sun protection is one of the basic and important skin care steps. Healthy skin starts with preventing damage from solar rays.  
What is sunscreen and why should it be part of a daily skin care regimen?
Sunscreen is a topical skin product, available in several forms, designed to protect the skin from the sun's ultraviolet rays. UV rays come in two varities: UVA rays, which lead to aging (wrinkling, "leathering") because they penetrate deep layers of the skin, and UVB rays, which are the primary cause of sunburn. 
What is SPF?


SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and is a measure of how much a sunscreen protects skin from UVB rays. According to the FDA, people commonly falsely belive SPF relates to the amount of time one can spend in the sun without burning. SPF, however, is related to the amount of solar exposure rather than the time of solar exposure. 
When and where should one wear sunscreen?
Every day, whether one is indoors or outside (UVA rays can penetrate glass windows), to any exposed skin. Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before exposure and reapply no more than two hours later. Sunscreen should be reapplied immediately after swimming or heavy perspiration. Reapplication applies to the face as well, so if a moisturizer or makeup has sun protection, continue to use it throughout the day. Do not forget about the tops of your hands and arms when driving, as the sun's rays reach your skin through car windows.

What kind of sunscreen is best?
No "right" answer exists but sunscreens contain a variety of ingredients, including several potentially harmful chemcal compounds like avobenzone, octinoxate, and oxybenzone. While most products on the market contain many chemical and synthetic ingredientes, several use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, both natural sun blocks, as the primary active ingredients. One of the best available is Badger (www.badgerbalm.com), which can be found at several stores around Atlanta, including Whole Foods, Sevananda in Little Five Points, Rainbow Natural Foods in Decatur and At the Collective in Inman Park. 
Take care of your skin, the body's largest organ, and begin with daily use of sunscreen.

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