With the return of warm sunny days, I’m getting a flood of great sunscreen questions. Since 90% of skin aging is due to sun exposure, UV protection is just about the smartest thing we can do to avoid wrinkles and dark spots. But it can be harder than just grabing a tube of goo and dabbing it on.
Question 1: Help! I know I should use sunscreen, but they makes my skin break out.
I know about that first hand. Its so unfair. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, some sunscreen formulations can provoke breakouts, even in women over 40. You should start by looking for oil-free formulations. Check the labels and avoid ingredients like beeswax, petroleum, parafin and shea butter. But oil isn’t the only problem. Breakouts over 40 are the result of inflammation, rather than the hormone/bacteria axis, so other non-oily ingredients can provoke problems. If you find sunscreens are causing blemishes, check your sunscreen for silicones, alkyl benzoate, acrylate polymers and the palmitates. These are often used in creams and lotions and are generally good, safe ingredients. But if you have a tendancy to breakout, these can be irritating. I recommend buying sunscreens at CVS, Sephora or Bath and Body Works where they give you a complete refund if the product doesn’t work for you– and breakouts certainly fall under that criteria.
Question 2: If I use a moisturizer with a 15 SPF and sunscreen with a 15 SPF, does that equal 30 SPF ?
If only that were true. No matter how manydifferent products you pile on, generally your total SPF is just the highest number you are using. In this case, your total SPF is still 15. However there are some powders and mineral foundations contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide which are great UVB blockers. Its hard to measure, but in theory they can provide increased protection.