This President’s Day weekend is set to be quite fair-weathered, a great time to enjoy outdoor shopping and people watch on a park bench in Union Square, but it’s also time for us fair-skinned (and even medium complexioned) folks to be on guard. Most of us around Union Square are covered from head to toe in layers all year long, making a tan physique an extremely desirable and elusive goal. Whenever the sun peeks out, as it will this weekend, hordes of San Franciscans flock to parks and outdoor spaces to bask in its warm glow. Although bronze glowing skin is attractive and seems indicative of health and vitality, it is actually causing your skin trauma.
Ever notice how exhausted you feel after laying poolside for an afternoon? When sun hits your skin, it activates melanocytes—pigment-producing cells. Melanocytes are little soldiers who protect you from the sun by releasing a brown color pigment. These little soldiers work for your immune system and after hours of fighting—protecting you from the sun—they get worn out, hence your exhaustion. This isn’t just a summer-time phenomenon. Sunlight is damaging to your skin all year long, whether you’re sitting out on a sunny day or walking to work in the fog. In fact, all light (even artificial lighting from lamps, computers, TVs, etc.) causes skin damage such as age spots.
Check this out yourself! Do you see a difference between the color of your face, neck and chest and the skin on the rest of your body? Areas that rarely see the sun tend to have more even coloring and be smoother. Many people realize the importance of wearing sunscreen when they’re laying poolside or at the beach, but wearing it daily is just as important. And it isn’t just needed on your face. It’s important to treat each area that is exposed the same way.
Understanding Sun Protection Labels
When you look at the label of a sun protection product there are a few things to consider:
1. Is it a combination product? Does it contain sun protection and moisturizer?
It’s best to use separate products for moisturizing and sun protection. Moisturizing is something that happens within the skin and controls water and oil. Sun protection is something that happens on the surface and either reflects or absorbs light.
2. Does it block out both UVAs and UVBs?
UVA and UVB are types of ultraviolet light found in sunlight. Think of UVAs as ‘Aging’ and UVBs as ‘Burning’. In the US, products are not required to indicate UVA protection, but some products do work to block out both UVAs and UVBs, so check the labels closely. Look for “broad spectrum” or “full spectrum” protection.
3. What level of SPF is it?
The Sun Protection Factor (SPF) number indicates the percentage of UVB light that will be blocked from damaging your skin. For example, SPF 15 indicates that 93% of harmful UVBs will be blocked, and SPF 30 indicates 97%. Remember, SPF only indicates the degree of prevention for skin reddening, so avoid excessive exposure regardless. The higher the SPF number the longer your skin can be exposed without reddening, but sun protection products wipe off as easily as any lotion or makeup, so you’ll need to reapply several times a day to ensure your skin is protected.
Tips for Applying Sun Protection
1. Avoid combination products—use separate moisturizer and SPF products.
2. Apply your moisturizer first, allowing it to dry. Then, apply your SPF.
3. Apply to face, neck and chest.
4. For maximum protection, reapply SPF at least 3 times per day to all exposed areas.
5. Wash remaining SPF off your skin before bed.
BellaPelle Skin Studio was created to uncover every client’s most exquisite “bella pelle” (Italian for beautiful skin). They offer individually customized skin, beauty and wax treatments to meet clients’ specific needs and goals in an environmentally conscious and stylish business on Union Square’s historic Maiden Lane. For more information on BellaPelle visit them at www.bellapelle.com or call 415.362.6384.