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Aaaahhh Calgary! One minute it’s summer, and the next it’s winter. There’s just no in-between, and it has a HUGE impact on our skin’s health and hydration. One minute you are a sweaty, oily mess, the next, dry and flaky. But did you know that no matter the season, it’s best to wear sunscreen all day, every day? You read that right! If you want to prevent wrinkles, loose skin, brown spots and blotchiness, it’s best to use sun protection on a daily basis.

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When you turn 70 and people think you’re 52, you’ll thank us for this valuable piece of skin care information! 😉

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Before we get into why at SkinScience we prefer mineral sunscreen over chemical sunscreen, let’s address a very commonly asked question: What is an SPF and how does it work? 

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Many people are confused when it comes to SPF values and why a higher number doesn’t necessarily mean better protection for our skin (especially over an SPF50). In order to understand SPF, we need to talk about UVA and UVB rays.

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The Difference between UVA and UVB rays

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There are two types of rays that we need to protect our skin against. UVB – The Burning rays and UVA – the Aging rays. 

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UVB light is in the range of 290 nm-320 nm. There are 2 types of UVA rays, UVA1 and UVA2. UVA1 light is in the range 340-400 nm; UVA2 light is in the range 320-340nm.

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To give you a better understanding, all light has different wavelengths and are measured in nanometers or nm for short. To put this into perspective, a nanometer is one billionth of a meter. Some are visible and some are not. These differences in wavelengths are important because specific sunscreen actives are needed to protect against these rays. UVA rays don’t burn our skin but can cross glass (and therefore windows) and cause significant damage to the skin.

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What Exactly is SPF?

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SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor.  This a measurement of how well a sunscreen will protect against UVB rays (based on the assumption that you apply enough ie. teaspoonful for the face), the kind of ray that causes sunburn, damages skin and can contribute to skin cancer. The number of an SPF is a measurement of protection from the amount of UVB exposure and this is where it gets a bit tricky.

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If your skin would normally burn after 10 minutes in the sun, applying an SPF 15 would (theoretically, if you apply enough sunscreen and in perfect lab conditions) allow you to stay in the sun for approximately 150 minutes (a factor of 15 times longer). Again, this is approximate and will depend on skin type, the intensity of sunlight, environmental conditions and the amount of product applied on the skin. That being said, an SPF value tells us about the amount of UVB rays screened/blocked, but doesn’t tell us anything about how well the product blocks UVA rays (the rays that cause skin aging).

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For daily use, most dermatologists recommend an SPF 30 as it offers enough protection for an average day. If you are spending a lot of time outside for hiking, gardening, running, walking, sports or a vacation, a higher SPF will be beneficial for added protection. Most people don’t apply enough to get the true SPF rating. For example if you apply only ½ the amount needed (this is very common) of a 30 SPF your likely only getting an 15 SPF, so less protection. This is why dermatologists (and the Canadian Dermatology Association) have upped the suggested daily minimum from SPF 15 to SPF 30. Again this is enough for the average day. You still need to re-apply every 90 minutes ensure the best protection against damaging UV rays.

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Higher SPF sunscreens often mean higher UVB protection but do not tell us anything about UVA (aging) protection. Remember that oh so silent but deadly ray we spoke about earlier? Most chemical sunscreens will claim Broad Spectrum Protection and can get away with it if it can screen one of the types of UVA rays. But remember, there are 2 different UVA rays with different wavelengths.  These rays are aging us and causing damage as we sit in our cars, offices and nap on that sunny spot on our couch! A true, well rounded Broad Spectrum Protection SPF will protect against all UVA (short and long) and UVB rays.

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The Mineral Advantage

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So, let’s get down to it. Why at SkinScience do we prefer mineral sunscreen over chemical sunscreen? It is really quite simple.

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Chemical sunscreens have to absorb into the skin for 15 minutes before being active and then they absorb the rays to act like a screen. The actives found in most chemical sunscreens are a combination of oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and/or octinoxate. Some are known to be more harmful than others, such as oxybenzone. These have been recently called for more research by the Food and Drug Administration for further research on safety, including, skin irritation, hormonal disruption and even skin cancer. That in combination with not always being a true broad spectrum protection (all UVA and UVB protection) is enough to see why mineral sunscreen is a better option. Now let’s get to the benefits of a mineral sunscreen and you can draw your own conclusion.

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Mineral sunscreen is safer and does not get absorbed into the skin. It blocks and reflects rays away from our skin immediately as opposed to being absorbed and then filtered like a chemical SPF. The actives in a mineral sun screen are Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. These are naturally found in our environment and are also safe for our oceans. Most protected reef tours will not allow tourists to use chemical sunscreens because it is harmful to marine life. Zinc is known to be a natural anti-inflammatory and can help regulate oil production (yay for acne prone skin!). Zinc oxide is a true broad spectrum protection and protects against all UVA and UVB rays. There are studies that show that visible light can age us. Think of our computer and television screens, our phones and even the office lighting. Minerals are blocking against these aging wavelengths as well. Can your chemical sunscreen do that? NO!

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The following table (courtesy of TiZO) gives a great visual explanation of why zinc oxide is the best mineral sunscreen for you, and why you should not use a sunscreen containing Titanium dioxide alone. Always use a Zinc oxide based sunscreen, or a [zinc oxide + titanium dioxide] based sunscreen.

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Our Clinic’s Favorites

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 Some of our favorite mineral sunscreens are:

SkinCeuticals – Sheer Physical UV Defense SPF50 & Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF50 

DermaQuest – SheerZinc SPF30

Image Prevention Plus – Daily Hydrating Moisturizer SPF30 & Daily Tinted Moisturizer SPF30 (oil free).

Colorescience – Sunforgettable Powder Sunscreen SPF50

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Good to Know (and Remember)

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  • The sun is wonderful for your overall health, but can be damaging to the skin (and eyes). Wear your SPF daily, and sunglasses too!
  • UVA and UVB rays are present even on a cloudy day, whether it’s spring, summer, fall or winter.
  • While UVB rays are not as strong in the winter, UVA rays are constant throughout the year and can contribute to skin aging.
  • UVA can easily go through glass (and that includes windows) into your home, car or office.
  • Even if you are not feeling or seeing the burning effects of the sun, the rays are still there.
  • Think of your SPF as a daily moisturizer and not just sun protection because you now know a mineral SPF can protect against so much more!

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Wondering which mineral SPF would be best for YOU? Search no more, come and visit us today and let’s find a sun protection you will fall in love with! (yes, it is possible!)

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403.287.1477

Online Shopping: https://skinscience.md/shop/

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