SPF, UVA, UVB – Do You Know What These Mean?

Plastic Surgeon serving Lutherville Timonium, Baltimore & Columbia areas of Maryland

Over the last few years, sunscreens have flooded the market with so many various types, all claiming to have an even better SPF protection than all the others. This has resulted in only confusing consumers more and unable to determine exactly what SPF level they should be wearing.

If you are one of those confused consumers, the FDA has come to your rescue! They have established new rules for the labels on all Sunscreen products and they have to be in compliance in the next year. Still though, right now, it can still be confusing. So The Plastic Surgery Center of Maryland offers some guidelines for you to follow in the meantime for your 2012 days of summer.

SPF is the acronym for Sun Protection Formula. The numbers that follow is the length of time it would take to burn if you weren't wearing any Sunscreen protection at all. For example SPF30 means that you could burn within 30 minutes if you aren't wearing any kind of Sunscreen protection.

We know that UVA and UVB rays both are cancer causing rays. We also know that UVA rays cause premature aging and wrinkling while the UVB rays are what sunburn us. By the current rules of the FDA, the product must "provide protection against both ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) and ultraviolet A radiation (UVA)."

So one claim you will see on many, if not most, Sunscreen products is “broad spectrum”. So if a product is to claim it protects your skin from all kinds of sun damage, i.e. cancer causing, aging, wrinkling and sunburn, The FDA mandates that the label has to read the product has a SPF15 level or higher and offers protection of "broad spectrum".

Dr. Basner wants his patience to know the difference between chemical Sunscreen and physical Sunscreen. Each one has it's own purpose and if not used at the right time in the right way, doesn't do you any good what-so-ever. Both chemical and physical Sunscreen protection have drawback, but improvements have been made to both over the past few years too.

A chemical Sunscreen, utilizes avobenzone and oxybenzone, chemical UV filters that absorbs the rays from the sun. Chemical Sunscreens tend to be liquid and runny, they can tend to be more irritating and cause your skin to breakout as well.

With a physical sunscreen, it deflects the sun and it's damaging UV rays. Titanium oxide and zinc are the ingredients that are keeping those harmful rays away. Some physical Sunscreens formulas are hard to blend and leave a whitish cast behind as well may cause your skin to breakout as well.

Buzz words in the Sunscreen market are 'instant protection', 'sunblock', 'sweat-proof' and 'waterproof'. These are descriptions that the FDA has tightened up on with the new rules, however in the meantime, you need to know the truth about all of these buzz words and their claim. They aren't the truth!

First of all, Dr. Basner advises us that there is nothing in the Sunscreen market that is going to be 'sweat-proof' or 'waterproof', it's not possible. A Sunscreen product can not be instantaneous either. They all take at the very least 25 minutes or longer, to take effect. The claim to be 'water resistant' does hold some truth when it states it is in increments of 40 to 80 minutes.

That claim that some products make they provide a “sunblock”, is false. Dr. Basner advises all his patients that the only way to block the sun is stay inside. Going forward though, the new FDA rules that manufacturers of Sunscreen will have to follow will prohibit them from making that claim.

There are Sunscreens products on the market that are SPF15 or higher, and state that they can prevent sunburns. However, Dr. Basner and other dermatologists will suggest to any patient that the Sunscreen you use should be an SPF30 or higher. In most cases, for most people, a SPF rating of 30 is adequate protection from the harmful UV rays the sun puts out there.

The Plastic Surgery Center of Maryland wants you to enjoy your summer months, just make sure you and those around you are protected to the fullest possibility. After years of either practicing Sunscreen protection or not, you have discovered some places on your skin that you feel may be sun damage, make an appointment with Dr. Basner today for a consultation*.

Revealing the Beauty in You is our main goal here at The Plastic Surgery Center of Maryland.