Friday, June 28, 2013

Sunscreen, Makeup, and Skin Care Products

If you're one of those ladies who go out a lot but rely mainly on BB creams (or other cosmetics with SPF) as your sole protection against the sun, then think again. I admittedly use my multi-functional BB cream during those days when I only needed to go out for a few minutes, and skip the sunscreen due to the usually greasy effect they give on my face. However, BB creams alone wouldn't be enough for longer sun exposure - even those with a high SPF and broad spectrum protection - because BB creams are only supposed to be applied sparingly on the face. Unless you're willing to slather your face with a full-shot-glass amount of BB cream, a tiny amount of BB cream will never be enough to keep you protected, and so comes in the heavy-duty sunscreen.

Yet, using a sunscreen raises a lot of questions. Sun protection isn't simply achieved by merely applying a sunscreen before going out. Reapplication is a must, especially when you are continuously exposed under the sun. If you don't reapply, then there is no point of applying a sunscreen in the first place. But many women wear makeup, so reapplication can get very tricky. It may be impractical to remove everything just so the sunscreen can be applied once again. And perhaps because of this inconvenience, many women find reapplication of sunscreen nearly impossible.

Aside from that, there are also some questions regarding when to apply sunscreen. If you solely apply sunscreen on your face, then there is no problem about the order of application. But in reality, most women apply toner, serums, and moisturizers along with the sunscreen. If the sunscreen is a chemical sunscreen, the ingredients need to bind with the skin first in order to work. But if there are products that get in the way, then the sunscreen might become ineffective. Even if you apply the sunscreen first before the rest of the skin care products, you do not know for sure whether the ingredients of the other products might counteract the sunscreen ingredients.

I've tried searching for answers for these concerns. And from all the resources I've read, I've come up with the following conclusions:

1. If you are using a chemical sunscreen (Read: Physical and Chemical Sunscreen), always apply it first before any skin care product and makeup.

2. If you are concerned about the interaction of your products with your sunscreen, then use the sunscreen alone as much as you can. Save your moisturizer or serums at night time. If you have very dry skin, then look for sunscreens with emollient properties so you need not apply a separate moisturizer.

3. If you need to wear makeup, then look for cosmetics containing at least SPF 15 (I prefer SPF 30 for my face). Wear sunscreen underneath your makeup, and use an SPF-containing powder to retouch. That way, you are able to reapply a new layer of "sunscreen" without having to remove all the makeup you've applied laboriously in the morning. In fact, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying SPF powder over a sunscreen, because that creates a double layer of protection.

4. Keep in mind that even if you're using products with different SPF, the resulting SPF protection you'll get will come from the higher SPF product. So if you're using an SPF 50 sunscreen and an SPF 30 BB cream, you'll get an overall protection of SPF 50 (not SPF 80 as some might assume).

5. The effectiveness of a sunscreen product is backed up by science but the studies conducted were only based on using the sunscreen alone. There is no existing study in my knowledge that has considered its effectiveness in accordance to using it with other skin care products. That may be the reason why different dermatologists may advice conflicting ideas regarding sunscreen use.

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