Sunscreen is among the most essential skin care products. It should be included in every person’s routine.
The effects of sun damage can be extremely harmful and can even lead to skin cancer, so how can we ensure that we are using the most effective sunscreen?
Today, we here at MadeMan will be helping you to understand the difference between mineral and chemical sunscreen and how to use sunscreen to render the best results for your skin type.
What is Sunscreen?
Sunscreen is a product that contains ultraviolet filters and active ingredients that help to block ultraviolet rays. The purpose of using sunscreen is to shield your skin from the UV radiation emitted by the sun.
Unprotected sun exposure can result in something called photoaging. Photoaging is when the sun prematurely ages the skin by drying, wrinkling, and discoloring it.
Sunscreen should be applied every morning. Since sunscreen acts as a protective layer for your skin, it should be the very last step of your skincare routine and applied after your moisturizer.
Apply your sunscreen daily, even if it is overcast or you plan on staying indoors. UV rays can pass through cloudy skies and windows to ensure that your skin is consistently protected. You must develop the good habit of applying sunscreen every morning and then reapplying throughout the day as needed.
The average amount of sunscreen to apply may vary from person to person, but we recommend using a nickel-sized dollop, or .04 ounces, on your face. Especially remember to reapply if your day involves a midday shower or swim.
In addition to applying sunscreen all over your face, you may also want to extend this protection to your lips and scalp. If your head is shaved, then this might seem like common sense, but even a scalp covered by a full head of hair can use a little extra support.
Your hair does somewhat protect your head from the sun’s rays, but because 10% of melanomas occur on the scalp, it is important that you are using SPF products tailored for your head on any spots visible to the sun.
Mineral vs Chemical
There are two types of sunscreens that you can choose from. While both are proven effective and perform the same task of defending your skin against the effects of sun damage, they do function differently.
The first type is called mineral sunscreen, also sometimes referred to as physical sunscreen.
Mineral sunscreen works as a physical barrier to ultraviolet radiation, and it sits on top of the skin. When the sun’s rays touch your skin, the ingredients, which include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, will block and scatter them before they can penetrate and damage your skin.
While just as effective as chemical sunscreen, there are far fewer mineral sunscreens available on the market, and some mineral sunscreens may leave behind a white residue or white cast on the skin.
Mineral sunscreens are believed to be the better option for those with sensitive skin types or acne-prone skin because they are thinner, thus reducing the risk of irritation or pore-clogging compounds. It is gentle enough to be used in most baby sunscreens.
The second type of sunscreen is called chemical sunscreen.
Chemical sunscreen uses chemical filters to protect the skin from the sun’s UV rays. The ingredients in chemical sunscreen like oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, and avobenzone work like a sponge to absorb the rays before they have the chance to cause damage to your skin.
For those constantly on the go, chemical sunscreen may be the better option. These sunscreens are known to absorb quicker than mineral sunscreens. Other pros of chemical sunscreen are that it also tends to be lightweight and, once dried, is invisible to the eye, making the application process easy for daily use.
Chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the bloodstream at higher rates than mineral sunscreens due to the chemical compounds.
Other Things to Look For
Make sure that your sunscreen of choice has a high enough sun protection factor, more commonly recognized by its acronym SPF.
The SPF indicates how effective the product will be at protecting your skin from UV radiation. Use a sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30.
Also, ensure that the sunscreen you choose is labeled as broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. Broad-spectrum protection sunscreens are designed to protect you from both UVA and UVB rays.
Both forms of the sun’s rays can damage your skin and may contribute to premature aging.
UVA rays have higher wavelengths that make them more penetrating than UVB rays and give them the ability to affect cells deeper.
UVB rays have higher energy levels than UVA rays and will typically damage the outermost layers of the skin. You must protect yourself against both.
Treating Sun Damage
If you are just now beginning to use sunscreen, there is a chance that you may have already amassed some sun damage or noticed the adverse effects of photoaging. Next, we will be discussing easy and effective treatment options for sun damage.
One of the most common symptoms of sun damage is sunspots, also sometimes called liver spots or age spots. These spots are typically characterized by a flat area of brown or black discoloration and may be more noticeable on lighter skin tones than darker skin tones.
A common method for treating sunspots is to use a lightening cream with peptides. There are both over-the-counter and prescription products available that can be used to reduce skin discoloration caused by sun damage to help even out your skin tone.
Prescription lightening creams often contain hydroquinone.
Hydroquinone is a potent ingredient capable of lightening hyperpigmentation. While successfully performing this task, the powerful ingredient is strong enough to damage the skin when used incorrectly.
In most instances, you will require a dermatologist’s approval to use hydroquinone safely on your skin. Additionally, you should not use the product for more than three months at a time.
Chemical peels are also a popular method for treating the effects of photoaging. A chemical peel is a facial treatment that can be used for deeper exfoliation of the skin’s surface.
During the treatment, a chemical solution is applied to the patient’s skin with a formula that is meant to prompt new skin growth and gradually fade any discolored spots.
While the safest way to use chemicals on your skin is to have this treatment performed by professionals, there are at-home alternatives available.
The most common is to use a chemical exfoliant instead. While using an at-home exfoliant may take longer to see results, the process is very similar.
Chemical exfoliation uses chemicals to dissolve the dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. Glycolic acid is typically recognized for improving the skin’s texture, while salicylic acid is more often recognized for its ability to unclog pores though both are capable of treating redness, dark spots, and the skin’s texture.
To avoid irritation, you can start by using an herbal-based exfoliator.
Using the right cleanser every day can also help to treat your skin back to health. You need something gentle enough to be used on your damaged skin but simultaneously strong enough to prevent further damage.
We recommend The Resetter. This water-based cleanser uses all-natural ingredients and is specifically designed to improve the feel of your skin.
Not only does this product provide you with a safe but thorough and refreshing cleanse, it also conveniently doubles as a shaving gel. The Resetter can specifically help with rectifying the texture of your sun-damaged skin by leaving it and your facial hair feeling soft, smooth, and hydrated.
On the topic of hydration, using the right moisturizer can also help with repairing sun-damaged skin back to health. When skin is exposed to UV rays without protection, the rays can go as far as to kill skin cells. This typically leaves the skin feeling rough and dry. Using a good moisturizer can help with combatting this issue.
We recommend trying MadeMan’s The Refresher.
The Refresher is an all-in-one water-based moisturizer that uses all-natural ingredients. One of these ingredients is Mica which protects your face from harmful rays and pollution.
This moisturizer is formulated to restore and repair the skin. Its antioxidant blend promotes the natural repair process, fixes fine lines, and boosts natural collagen production.
The Refresher can help to nourish and rehydrate your sun-damaged skin as it fights off hyperpigmentation, redness, and uneven skin texture.
Dermabrasion is a skin resurfacing treatment that removes both the top and middle layer of the skin. During the procedure, a rapidly rotating device is used to sand the skin. This is meant to encourage cell regeneration and prompt the growth of new skin that is smoother, clearer, and more evenly toned than before.
The physical benefits of dermabrasion include treating sun damage, removing discoloration, and reducing scarring.
This procedure does pose the potential for certain side effects and should be discussed with your dermatologist beforehand.
For a less intense version of this same treatment, you can consider trying microdermabrasion instead. The procedure itself is nearly identical to dermabrasion but is labeled as minimally abrasive.
In conclusion, sunscreen is of the utmost importance for maintaining healthy, attractive-looking skin. You are welcome to choose either a mineral or chemical sunscreen so long as it is broad-spectrum, has a high enough SPF, and is being applied every morning.
Sunscreens | PubMed
Sun-damaged skin (photoaging): what is new? | PubMed
Evidence and Considerations in the Application of Chemical Peels in Skin Disorders and Aesthetic Resurfacing | NCBI
Dermabrasion | PubMed