Understanding sunscreen… SPF, ingredients and proper use and application

Going through this pandemic and quarantine, our lives have changed drastically. With work and activities limited, less interaction with loved ones, and friends, we are creating new lifestyles, including more time outdoors.. In these bright, hot summer months, increased time outdoors means an increased need to protect our skin from harmful UV rays from the sun.


What are the risks of sun exposure?

Unprotected time in the sun can lead to a risk of basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers and melanoma. It also causes photodamage that causes premature aging, sunspots, and skin discoloration. It leads to uneven skin tone and texture of the skin.

Sunscreens are designed to provide protection from harmful UVA/UVB radiation from the sun. Different sunscreens have different properties. Chemical or Organic sunscreens work by absorbing harmful UV rays to keep them from getting into the skin. An example of this is Octyl-Salicylate. Physical or Inorganic sunscreens work by creating a physical barrier on the skin to reflect UV rays. Typically this consists of Titanium dioxide or Zinc Dioxide. These can create a white cast on the skin but usually last longer on the skin and are better tolerated for those with sensitive skin. Most sunscreens are formulated as a combination of Organic and Inorganic protectants to maximize protection.

What does SPF actually refer to?

We know SPF = Sun Protection Factor and is categorized as a number. This number has to do with how long an individual can be in the sun and reflect the sun’s harmful rays from their body based on their body’s individual burn time. It is often assumed the highest SPF is better, but the amount of protection does not increase linearly with a higher SPF. An SPF 15 provides 93% protection, and SPF of 30 provides 97% and an SPF of 50 or higher provides small increments of 98% or more. A high-number SPF does not necessarily allow you to spend additional time outdoors without reapplication. Dermatologists typically recommend using an SPF 30 for outdoor work or activity and SPF 15 for daily use or under make-up.


It also matters how it is used! Sunscreens are best used when applied in a generous amount approximately every two hours when outdoors, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating. You should use about one ounce when applying it to your body – for reference that’s about the size of a shot glass. Most sunscreens are not truly waterproof but water resistant for 40 or 80 minutes. Apply the sunscreen 20-30 min before going into the water and re-apply when you get out of the water.

How often should we use sunscreen?

Sunscreen should be used daily and regularly. UVA rays penetrate through cloud coverage, windows, and glass. Snow, sand, and water increase the need for sunscreen because they reflect the sun’s rays. Sunscreen should be paired with hats, sunglasses, and protective clothing for optimal sun protection.


Keep it easy for your clients. Different types of sunscreen may be easier to use on different body areas. Creams are best for dry skin and face; Gels are better for hairy areas such as the scalp or a male chest or when going into the water. …Ultimately the best sunscreen is one that the client is going to use!

With this in mind, Esthetic Formula brings you two different experiences in Sunscreen use. Our Silky Sun Gel, rich with antioxidants, protecting against UVA, UVB, and infrared rays, is a clear sunscreen that glides on effortlessly and repels water. Our classic Moisturizing Sunscreen with Titanium Dioxide provides both organic and mineral-based sun blockers to protect from UVA and UVB rays while providing enriching moisture to the skin to maintain tone and texture of the skin. At EF we maximize on high-quality ingredients, protection, and usability for you and your clients.

These days the sunny outdoors is our refuge and sunscreen gives us the freedom to enjoy our time outdoors and stay active. Protect your skin and stay safe!