Q&A– What is new about the new sunscreen guidelines?

I tend to distrust new guidelines.  They are often painfully bureaucratic and tend to makes  things less understandable and  more expensive–eg food pyramid to food plate  But these new FDA sunscreen guidelines  make good sense. Whoever came up with these revisions, decided to focus on five important areas:

1.  The term “Broad Spectrum”-  this means that the sunscreen   protects against against both UVA rays ( which cause skin aging) and UV B rays ( which produce tanning)– and both cause skin cancer.  Currently there are no guidelines as to what this has to mean for a product.  The new guidelines  requires thatfor a sunscreen to be broad spectrum it must  contain agents that provide  protection against both types of rays and to state that degree of protection on the label.  So you might see a label that says SPF15 for UVA and 20SPF … Continue Reading…

Sunscreen in Real Time

Now that  sun filled days are here, I am wondering  how much sunscreen do I really need to use.  Many expert recommend one tablespoon for the face and  a total of two tablespoons for  both face and body.   To test  it out, I  measured out one tablespoon  of sunblock and dumped it on a small plate.  Then I went to work, dabbing it  on my checks, nose, and chin. I avoided my bang covered forehead.   At first, things went fine.  My skin seemed very happy  with the  extra moisture  of the sunscreen.  But as I applied more and more, it started to pile up on the surface until it looked like frosting — or clown make-up.

One of my biggest concerns when using sunscreen has been wearing make-up over it.  Not infrequetly, foundation, powder or blush … Continue Reading…

Sunscreen Sense or Nonsense

  The standard recommendation of one tablespoon of sunscreen  is clearly ridiculous, and even one teaspoon is  challenging.   But if these are the quantities which are used to measure SPF,  how much  good am I doing with  my 1/2 teaspoon?  And I thought I was doing so well diligently applying it every morning. 

I’ve now found a new tool to measure how much protection I am actually getting.  They are disposble strips called UV Sun Sense and I got them in a great suncare skin from Sephora ( Its $25 for 12 samples of different suncare products and I’d get it if  its still available).  As per instructions, I applied  a dab of my sunscreen to the strip and attached it to my wrist.  These  bracelets change color according  to the amount of sun you receive.  At first they turn bright purple.  When the band fades to pink, is time to reapply  sunscreen.  When  it  turns pale yeallow, … Continue Reading…

Sunscreen:How Much is Too Much, Part 2

This is what one tablespoon of sunscreen looks like on my face. 

One of my biggest concerns  when using sunscreen  has been wearing make-up over it.  Not infrequently foundation, powder or blush would turn dark and orangy when applied over  sunscreen  covered skin.  Looking at this  photo,  I can’t imagine where I could actually put the  make-up.   Clearly  this one tablespoon idea is not something too many experts have actually tried out.

Moving on, I measured out one teaspoon of sunscreen and  started to put it on my face.  Starting near my eyes, I applied the sunscreen to the sides of my nose and  smoothed it out over  my chin and cheeks– and there it sat.  And sat. Rather than looking like fluffy frosting, … Continue Reading…

Sunscreen: How much is too much?

How much sunblock  do you use on your face?  Most experts recommend one tablespoon for the face and two tablespoons for the whole  body.  I measured out  one tablespoon of a favorite sunblock  and dumped it on a saucer.  Then I started to apply it to my skin. At first  things were working normally.  As I applied it,  my skin was happy to absorb it.   Then as I applied more and more,  it started to pile up on the surface until it looked like frosting. ( or clown paint). 

It certainly makes you wonder how the “experts” came up with their recommendations.  Did any of them ever actually try out this quantity  before issuing the one tab guideline.  Seriously!  Not only did I look  like Bozo the Clown, my skin began to burn and itch.  I was so uncomfortable, I was gritting my teeth until I could take the shot and  rush to wash it off.

Even … Continue Reading…

Sunscreen Follies

How much sunscreen  do you use on your face?  A dab or two on your cheeks and forehead?  A nickel-sized blob?  I have often read that experts recommend  using one tablespoon on the face and two tablespoons for the body.  Last week while I was making Linzer cookies, I was measuring out butter and one tablespoon looked like a pretty big lump to apply to  my face.  It got me thinking.  I know that butter is 100% fat so perhaps a creamy lotion would absorb more easily.  I squeezed out a tablespoon of my favorite sunscreen and dumped it on a saucer.  As you can see from the photo, its quite an impressive puddle of cream.

In the name of science ( and beauty)  I applied  it to my face– … Continue Reading…

Anti-Aging Sunscreen Cheat Sheet# 6

#6. SPF — This is the big Kahuna of sunscreen terms.  Seeing   “SPF”  on a package gives  you confidence in a product- maybe too much confidence.

Here’s how it works:  SPF stands for “sun protection factor”.  An SPF 15 means that you can stay in the sun 15X longer without burning.  If you start burning after 10 minutes  of sun exposure, then a 15 SPF  means you can spend 10 x 15 =150 minutes in the sun without burning.   But this sounds better than it is.

Many factors affect how much sun protection you actually have in real time– how much you use, if you’re near water or sands which reflects light,  as well as heat, humidity and time of year.  To me the most interesting things I learned is an SPF 30 is not twice  as good a 15 SPF.  Who knew?

I think that the best way to view an SPF is as proof that this product has actually been … Continue Reading…