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Everything You Need to Know About SPF: Guest Blogger

Dermatologist-in-training and all around cool girl blogger Aegean Chan is the savvy mind behind super-skincare blog Aegmora. Chan educates her readers with particularly informative posts that tie together her science background and her extensive experience with beauty products. We love that she demystifies everything from familiar active ingredients like Benzoyl Peroxide to the newest trends like coconut oil. This week, Chan teaches us how to fight acne better, keep our skin hydrated, and protect it from the sun.

I’ll admit, I’ve been in this position before (see above). Growing up in California, they tell you the sun is your friend. But that was a bald-faced lie. The sun is NOT a friend to your beautiful skin and I am here to tell you why and what you can do about it.

You may crave the golden brown baked look for the summer, but the harmful UVB and UVA rays emanating from the ball of fire that heats our planet destroy the collagen scaffolding that makes your skin look luscious and plump. Other evil, evil things these rays can do are encourage cell death, mutate DNA to make you more at risk for skin cancer, thin your skin, and cause unsightly damage at too early of an age.

Seeing a glowing, youthful Stevie Nicks share her ultimate beauty secret (avoiding the sun) on Oprah was the kick in the pants I needed to take sun protection seriously (yes, I confess Oprah has that power over me. Don’t lie, you do too). I started to live by these rules:

Rule #1: Stay out of the sun. Or if you’re in the sun, use hats, umbrellas, trees, cabanas to shield your skin.

Rule #2: USE SUNSCREEN. And to follow rule #2, I had to learn how SPF worked and what kind of sunscreen I should look for.

First, SPF (sun protection factor) only measures how well it protects your skin against UVB rays, which cause sunburn. When applied correctly, it’s a measure of how long your skin will go without burning in direct sunlight compared to when you’re not wearing sunscreen And what does that mean to apply correctly? Lay it on thick and often. And dermatologists universally recommend that you choose something with SPF 30 or above. Coming soon, new FDA guidelines mean you won’t be able to find anything in stores above 50.

But what about UVA, you say? These rays cause invisible and irreversible damage deep in your skin, leading to wrinkles and skin cancer. The best way to protect against it is with sunscreens containing zinc or titanium oxide, avobenzone, or ecamsule.

Phew! After that crash course, how do you pick the right one? Well, first off, choose something that’s light and sheer enough for you to use everyday. For example, La Roche-Posay Anthelios is an amazing, elegant sunscreen that works well for those with fairer complexions. But, one drawback is that it can make girls of color (like me) look extra-pale and washed out. A better option for us is Skinceuticals Sheer Physical UV Defense that mixes effortlessly with any tinted moisturizer or foundation. Protecting your beautiful complexion for posterity is an investment worth making, ensuring you will be working it for a long, long time.

Aegean’s spot-on skincare advice shouldn’t be missed—here are the rest of her posts from this week.

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