By Cassi Bee
As you already know, we care a lot about what you put on your body. The skin is the largest organ of the human body and oftentimes, doesn't get the attention it deserves.
Sun Protection Factor
UVA vs. UVB vs. Broad Spectrum Protection
Ultraviolet-A, or UVA, are long-wave rays that make up about 95 percent of the sun's radiation and yet only a handful of sunscreen products offer protection against it. UVA rays penetrate the deepest layer of your skin, the hypodermis, causing tanning, leathering, aging/wrinkling, spotting, uneven skin tone, and melanoma.
These rays, ultraviolet-b, are short-wave rays responsible for that crisp, sunkissed-pink-to-lobster-red we are so used to seeing after a few extra minutes in the sun. UVB burns the epidermal layer of your skin, and while it only makes up about five percent of the rays received, it’s the type of UV most sunscreens protect against thanks to its potency and obvious and immediate affect on our skin.
The term “broad-spectrum coverage” means the sunscreen or sunblock will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays, offering the highest level of protection (see below) and what we need to worry about for our skin. This is an important detail to look for when you’re choosing a sunscreen or sunblock, especially if those aging rays (UVA) are of concern.
Which do I choose?
Still not sure which SPF to pick up? No worries, we can help! The FDA recommends using "broad spectrum sunscreens with SPF values of 15 or higher regularly and as directed."
If you are particularly prone to sunburn, you may need to go for a higher SPF such as SPF 30 or 50. Just be sure to continue to apply every two hours! Higher SPF doesn't mean your sunscreen lasts longer, only that it protects against a higher percentage of UV rays.
You won't necessarily see an obvious difference in sunburn protection after a certain SPF value, either. Most folks think SPF 100 offers twice the protection of an SPF 50, but the difference is actually pretty insignificant when we get to the math and science of it:
"Properly applied SPF 50 sunscreen blocks 98 percent of UVB rays; SPF 100 blocks 99 percent. When used correctly, sunscreen with SPF values in the range of 30 to 50 will offer adequate sunburn protection, even for people most sensitive to sunburn."
Ingredients to Avoid
"Paraben preservatives (butyl-, ethyl-, methyl-, and propyl-) can induce allergic reactions, hormone disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity,” according to , and a number of different scientific studies. There is also a suspected link between the inclusion of parabens to an uptick in breast cancer when used in underarm products or cosmetics that science is working to better understand through varies theories and studies.
Oxybenzone and octinoxate are often found in products with SPF because these ingredients help lotion or oil get into deeper layers of the epidermis. The downside to this chemical enhancement is that it starts to accumulate in our bodies, disrupting hormones faster than our bodies can process the chemical and clear it out of our system.
We think that the more natural the ingredients, the better it is overall, so we avoid these ingredients always when developing PiperWai jar, stick and potential future products.
Effects on the Environment
We don’t always consider the ways in which our lifestyle choices can affect the environment, but as a final point, we’d like to point out how important it is to think about this when using sunscreen products in open water or while camping. The harmful chemicals can come off of our skin pretty easily and enter nature, causing the same hormonal disruptions and chemical interferences we worry about for ourselves. This can turn into overall damage to the environment on a larger scale. in an effort to help save their underwater ecosystem and encourage folks to be a little more thoughtful about the ingredient labels of their skincare products, and as a vegan, non-toxic, cruelty-free company concerned about the health of our environment, we think that’s a great idea.
Sunscreen, Sunblock, and/or Sun Tan Oil…
Sunscreen works by chemically absorbing the sun’s radiation and, when applied appropriately, by preventing that radiation from penetrating the sunscreen and reaching the epidermal layer of your skin. This is a little different than how sunblocks work, and often includes ingredients to help your skin absorb the ingredients a little more easily.
To avoid too many chemicals being layered onto your body’s biggest organ, we recommend a mineral sunscreen like .
Unlike sunscreen, sunblock works by physically deflecting the sun’s radiation. The recommended amount for any sunscreen or sunblock is about one ounce per application, so be sure to apply enough when using this stuff even if it looks like it isn’t rubbing in. An uneven layer will leave your skin looking less than uniform and you may end up with patchy spots where the sun was able to penetrate.
And very much unlike both, sun tanning oil or lotion works by emphasizing the ultraviolet rays, rather than protecting against them, intensifying the effects and producing an even, tanned look on exposed skin. Think of this oily substance as a magnifying glass for the sun’s radiation, lightly toasting your epidermic layers in less time than even unprotected skin would experience. (We don't recommend this.)
Instead of toasting your buns like a bagel, we suggest taking a less damaging route to tanned skin and use an all-natural, non-toxic, self-tanning option like . This body bronzer is not only plant based, but also vegan, toxin-and-cruelty free. Plus, it washes off pretty easily.
The most important things to consider when picking out a sunscreen would be your individual skincare needs, the ingredients included and how they help or hurt your body or the environment, and what level of protection works best for your lifestyle or routine. Always aim for about an ounce of sunscreen and remember the differences between UVA, UVB and Broad Spectrum protection. , but there are some safer, smarter options out there. We hope this information helps you choose what will work best for you and your skin!