Dear Savvy Derm Diva,
Why do I still get tan when I wear my sunscreen? I thought it was supposed to prevent it.
Still Getting Tan, Derick H.
Dear Still Getting Tan,
This depends on a few factors. First of all, it does not matter if you wear a chemical or physical sunscreen; you still can get a little color from the sun as no sunscreen prevents 100% of UV exposure. Other factors to consider are if you are applying correctly or reapplying every 2 hours or after sweating or swimming, as sunscreen does wear off. If not, you are not protected, and you will develop some color and even increase your risk of sunburn. You always will get some % of UV radiation when wearing sunscreen. For example, if you wear a broad-spectrum SPF of 30, then 3% UV rays still penetrate the skin vs 100% if you do not wear sunscreen. The higher the SPF, the decreased % of UV rays that will penetrate, but remember always to make sure you reapply, as I mentioned above. Finally, no matter what, I recommend you see a Board-Certified Dermatologist or their Dermatology PA/NP to have your skin checked annually to ensure all of your spots are okay.
Diva Tip: Don’t wear expired sunscreen or mix it with other products, as they may be less effective. Finally, always wear at least a Broad-Spectrum SPF of 30 or higher and reapply every 2 hours or after sweating or swimming. A Derm Diva Fave: ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica
Dear Savvy Derm Diva,
What exactly does SPF stand for, and why do I need a Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen?
Needing Sunscreen 101, Ashley R.
Dear Needing Sunscreen 101,
I am so happy you asked, as I always get this question in the clinic. SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor” and was initially designated by the FDA in 1978 to prevent UVB radiation from causing sunburn. However, other UV wavelengths, such as UVA, can cause further damage to the DNA in the skin; therefore, the term “Broad-Spectrum” was introduced in 2011 by the FDA to regulate the sunscreens on the market. The bottom line is that an SPF measures how well it will protect you from sunburn. The higher the number equals less % of UV penetration into the skin. No sunscreen is a 100% protector against UV radiation, but it significantly reduces your risk of photoaging (fine lines, wrinkles) and skin cancer. Just make sure you reapply every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating, and wear an SPF 30 or higher!
Diva Tip: Formulations can make a difference, and there are many different sunscreens to choose from. Choose a chemical or a micro zinc option to prevent a white cast. If you want to prevent “pilling,” choose a sunscreen with dimethicone, amodimethicone, or cyclomethicone. If you want to prevent your melasma from worsening, ensure it has Iron Oxide! A few Diva Faves: LaRoche Posay, Neutrogena, or Eucerin.
Renata Block, MMS, PA-C, is the creator of Savvy Derm Diva, an online resource for proper skincare. Ask Savvy Derm Diva is a monthly column answering your skincare-related concerns! Make sure you follow her @savvydermdiva on Instagram, Facebook, Threads, and Twitter! You can make an appointment with her via TeleMedicine or in person at Advanced Dermatology & Aesthetic Medicine, LLC, or TEXT to 847-802-9667.