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Importance of Sunscreen: A Conversation with Dr. Sobel

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at NYU chapter.

If you are just starting to get into skincare and unsure what to purchase first, the one product that I recommend to all my friends is sunscreen. I can not stress enough the importance of sunscreen. Regardless of the season, skin tone, age, gender, whether you are inside or outside, you should ALWAYS wear sunscreen.

There are two types of sun rays that sunscreen protects you from UVA and UVB. UVB rays are responsible for sunburns. They are also what causes melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer).

UVA penetrates more deeply into your skin than UVB. They also cause skin cancer, but they play a more significant role in causing premature aging. 

If you are on acne medication or are on tretinoin or retinol, it is crucial to wear sunscreen! These products make your skin sensitive to light, causing your skin to burn faster. And if you have any skin discoloration or acne scars, repetitive exposure to the sun will actually darken the discoloration on your skin. 

What type of sunscreen should you use?

There are two types of sunscreens: physical and chemical. The difference is their key ingredients. Physical sunscreens usually contain mineral titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide (this is what leaves the “white cast” on your face). Chemical sunscreens typically contain avobenzone and/or octisalate, which usually won’t leave a white cast on your skin.

When looking at what sunscreen to purchase, you should look at the SPF level. As a general rule of thumb, SPF 15 is ideal if you are working inside all day. But if you are going outside, you need an SPF of 30 or higher to avoid skin damage. 

I am not a certified expert on the skin, so I reached out to someone who is actually certified in talking about the skin for you guys: Dr. Howard Sobel! Dr. Howard Sobel is a founder of Sobel Skin and an attending Dermatologist and Dermatologist surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital and Beth Israel Medical Center in NYC for more than 20 years. He has appeared and been quoted on numerous shows and magazines: The Wall Street Journal, CNN, CBS News, just to name a few.

I have composed a list of questions that were DMed to me by others who are also interested in learning more about their skin to ask Dr. Sobel: 

It is true that if you have darker skin, you don’t need to use as much sunscreen?

No, this is absolutely not true. You should always use SPF every day, no matter what skin tone you have.

What should consumers look for while shopping for sunscreen?

Look for something that has a high enough concentration of SPF that you won’t need to apply it as frequently. I recommend not going lower than SPF 40. My Sobel Skin Rx 100% Mineral Based SPF is SPF 50 and is also infused with antioxidants, so it does even more for the skin. You can also buy powders and foundations that infuse SPF for that added protection.

What is the difference between the measurements “SPF 30” and “PA+++”?

The more +’s, the more UVA protection. SPF measures protection from UVB rays. So, you want products with high SPF and multiple +’s.

If you already have sun damage, what steps should you take to reverse it? Is it reversible?

Yes, there are ways to reverse sun damage through lasers, peels, chemical treatments, and more intensive options you can find at the Dermatologist. These procedures do work to help reverse and minimize sun damage, but of course, it’s always better to prevent the damage from happening in the first place

If it isn’t sunny outside, should I still use sunscreen?

Yes!! You can still get sun damage on cloudy days. Additionally, even if you don’t go outside, UVB and UVA rays can travel through windows, so you should always apply it. 

What sunscreens do you recommend for people with sensitive skin/eczema skin?

And if you have any recommendations for people in their early 20s just starting to get into skincare, and taking preventative measures, I would love it if you can share some!

My Sobel Skin Rx 100% Mineral-Based Broad Spectrum SPF is great for people with sensitive skin and it’s formulated with zinc oxide. It’s also infused with niacinamide, lactic acid, and hyaluronic acid for those added benefits for the skin barrier. 

So next time you decide to step outside, make sure you reach for that sunscreen!

Serena is a senior editor for the NYU campus. She is a rising senior studying economics and psychology. Her interests besides writing for Her Campus are keeping up with the latest high fashion trends as well as testing new beauty products. If you have any questions or just want to chat, hit her up on Instagram/TikTok @rens.nyc
Co-Campus Correspondent/Editor-in-Chief @ HerCampus NYU For comments, suggestions and queries, contact at zh1402@nyu.edu