Sunscreen is a cardinal rule that skincare professionals, beauty magazine writers, and dermatologists everywhere recommend at the top of the list for good skin care. We all know by now that the suns rays have been linked to causing dry skin, wrinkles, sunspots, and even cancer. Sun protection is so important for maintaining healthy, youthful skin, yet so many of the SPF’s out there may actually do more harm than good. Here, we’re going to explore what SPF is exactly and answer some of the most important questions in properly guarding your skin.
1. What is SPF?
SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor”, and it is a measure of how well the sunscreen protects your skin from UVB rays. UVB rays are the nasty ones that can cause sunburn, damage your skin, and can contribute to skin cancer. This is why SPF is always followed by a number, the high the number the high the protection, theoretically. So, as an example, if you are in the sun for 10 minutes without sunscreen, an SPF 15 would allow you to be in the sun for 150 minutes. That is why it is recommended to apply every few hours. According to badgerbalm.com, a maker of 100% natural and certified organic sunscreens:
- SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
- SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays
- SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays
So, the higher the number, the more rays are blocked, but the increment increase is very slight.
2. Is there a difference between all natural and organic?
When it comes to beauty products, including sunscreen, “natural” signifies that the ingredients come from a natural source. This could be coconut oil that is found naturally, or it could include petroleum which is also a “natural” source. Just because it is natural does not mean it is good for you. In the United States, neither the FDA nor the USDA has rules or regulations for products labeled “natural” (1). So, companies that make products that are “all natural” may still contain highly processed ingredients, ingredients that were genetically modified and exposed to pesticides. However, “natural” still indicated that the sunscreen uses a natural source such as minerals rather than a chemical source such as Oxybenzone. In the sunscreen world, many products use chemicals to guard against the harmful UVB rays, and natural products use minerals and organic sources According to Goddess Garden Organics, “chemical reaction [from chemical sunscreens] turns the harmful rays into heat, which is then dissipated from the skin into the air. Natural, or mineral-based, sunscreens instead reflect the sun’s rays, like a mirror on the skin”. Essentially, you do not need chemicals to protect against the harmful UVB rays, minerals work wonders, and they do not harm your skin.
3. What are the requirements for an SPF product to be considered “organic”?
Certified Organic means that the USDA has approved and affirmed that the ingredients used are made without “pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation” (2). Natural sunscreens usually use oils such as olive oil, zinc, beeswax and plant extracts to do the trick and if it is organic, it means that these ingredients were sourced according to these standards.
4. What sunscreens should you buy?
These days, the word is out with good, natural, organic products and good sunscreen is not hard to come by. Here are some of the best on the market: