You’ve probably heard that you should be using SPF in your daily routine about a million times now. Your dermatologist has told you, your friends, the magazines you read, your mother, everyone. And it’s true! You should be wearing SPF everyday, whether or not you’ll be spending tons of time in the sun. But then questions start coming up: What type of SPF should I be using? Why is it important anyway? Is sunscreen even safe for my skin? At Kura, we’re here to answer all your questions and more!
Why do you need to use SPF?
Often, we only put sunscreen on when we go to the beach or know that we’ll be out in the sun for a long time. In actuality, we should be wearing sunscreen every day, whether it’s cloudy and raining or bright and sunny. SPF, which stands for sun protection factor, is protecting you from ultraviolet rays, which the sun emits. Since the sun never shuts off, neither does UV radiation, although it can change in its strength.
When exposed to UV radiation, the DNA in your skin becomes damaged by the radiation. Over time and exposure, the damage to the cells can create mutations. These mutations cause the cells to start rapidly multiplying, which leads to the formation of cancerous tumors.1 Exposure to UV radiation without protection can also cause premature signs of aging such as wrinkles and age spots.2
Using sunscreen daily is one of the easiest ways to protect your skin from the damaging effects of too much UV radiation.
How does sunscreen work?
We can split sunscreen up into two categories: chemical and physical. Chances are, you’ve probably already used chemical sunscreens. These products tend to contain ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, and octinoxate (more on these guys later). When UV rays hit your skin, the organic compounds in the sunscreen absorb the UV radiation, transform it into heat, and then emit that heat back out.3
Physical sunscreens, on the other hand, contain mineral-based ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Rather than absorb into your skin, this type of sunscreen sits on top of it and reflects the UV rays.
There are pros and cons to both of these sunscreen types. Chemical sunscreens usually feel lighter on your skin, whereas physical sunscreens can feel a bit heavier and sometimes leave that stereotypical white sheen on your face.
When it comes down to it, however, many of us make our choice based on how a sunscreen feels, rather than its safety. And at least for now, it’s not all that clear that chemical sunscreen is the safest option for your skin.
Is sunscreen safe?
According to the Food and Drug Administration, there has been sufficient data to show that zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are both effective and safe to use. Many of the ingredients in chemical sunscreen, however, have not met this same criteria.4 The FDA determined that many of the ingredients included in these sunscreens have insufficient data to support their safety or effectiveness. It’s important to think critically about the sunscreen you’re using, especially since chemical sunscreens absorb into your skin, rather than just sit on top.
Additionally, it’s been shown that ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate can cause serious damage to coral reefs, which is why some states, like Hawaii, have started banning products with those ingredients.5
What would Kura do?
Here at Kura, your skin’s safety and happiness is our highest priority. We know how important it is to protect your skin from the damaging effects of UV rays. Our personalized routines always include an SPF and we never curate products with oxybenzone or octinoxate.
At Kura Skin, we can help you find the perfect sunscreen for your skin using our data-driven and personalized approach to skincare. Just head to kuraskin.com, take a quick quiz, let us know your budget, and say goodbye to guesswork.
- UV Radiation and Your Skin [Skin Cancer Foundation]
- Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation [American Cancer Society]
- Chemical vs. Physical Sunscreen [Forefront Dermatology]
- Is sunscreen safe? [American Academy of Dermatology Association]
- Hawaii Passes Bill Banning Sunscreen That Can Harm Coral Reefs [The New York Times]