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A Collegiates’ Guide to Skincare: SPF Edition

I've said it once and I'll say it again,  as collegiates, now is the best time to start taking care of our skin. In the past I've discussed cost and ingrdient effective brands, skincare myths, skin care basics, and acids. It's been a while since I updated this series. When I was thinking about what to add next to my definitive guide to all things skincare, I knew I had to talk about daily SPF use.

Over the past few years skincare has exploded into all kinds of price points and offerings. With dermatological education fully democratised on websites, and social media it has never been easier to build a personalised, high-powered skincare regime. However, many collegiates are confused about where to begin. But here's the thing - the best thing for your skin is a lot simpler and less glamourous then you'd think. It's just using SPF daily and reapplying it every two hours. 

Cleansing and moisturising aside, SPF is the most useful and important part of a skincare routines. Without it, you won't see benefits from the active skincare ingrediants. Most skincare is used to preserve and improve the skin in some way. Over time your SPF is the most effective at doing this.

First things first: Physical vs. Chemical Sunscreen

Physical sunscreen is basically a mineral blocker. This is made of titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or a combo of the two. The minerals sit on the top layer of skin and form a physical shield or barrier, so the sun’s rays bounce or reflect off. 

Make sure to blend your sunscreen in very well so you're fully covered and it doesn't leave a white cast. This type is best for those with sensitive skin.

Chemical suncreen typically use a combination of ingredients like avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octocrylene, which absorb into the top layer of skin. These chemical blockers then absorb the sun’s rays and inactivate them.

They're known for being lightweight. Though now, formulations and ingredients are so good that both chemical and physical sunscreens can feel as light as moisturizer.

So why is SPF so important?

UVA and UVB rays from the sun is dangerous for skin and there is no research to the contrary. Even the best skin care products have limitations in reducing or repairing the ongoing damage unprotected sun exposure cause. Because of this we need SPF. Most people know that when going outside in the sun they need to wear sunscreen to protect them against the sun’s harmful UV rays. What a lot of people don’t realise is that everyday things like using your phone and watching TV or working on the computer omits HEV Light which can cause aging. SPF will prevent aging and protect the progress your skincare routine has amde.

When do I need to wear SPF?

Despite popular belief, SPF is not just for the summer. Regardless of season, or weather your skin is vulnerable to the UVA and UVB rays and HEV light when your indoors. So rain or shine; indoor or outdoors be sure to wear SPF. This will protect ther work your actives are doing on your skin, and prevent aging and damage.

The Basics: What to know for picking your SPF

1. Always make sure your SPF 30 or more. Anything lower will not do anything for you.

2. Do not mix with foundation or moisturizer. Use a seperate SPF on top of all skincare- SPF foundation won't hurt but it is not enough. 

3. Reapply every two hours! SPF only protects for two hours or until water comes in contact with your skin - whether it be rain, water or sweat. 

4. Make sure to use broad spectrum SPF because that protects against UVA and UVB rays.

How to incorporate & Different Types of SPF?

I know this sounds like a lot, but start by incorporating SPF into your daily skincare routine as the last step. If you're a makeup lover or don't want to apply a physical suncreen every two hours, try a spray sunscreen like the Glossier Invisbile Shield or the Milani Make it Last Suncreen Setting Spray. Or even a powder sunscreen like the Paula's Choice on the Go Shielding Powder or the Supergoop (Re)setting Mineral Powder! This will protect your skin from sun damage and aging in an easy effective way!

If you don't like White Cast & the SPF smell:

I know many people also might be concerned about the white cast some SPFs can give. The powders and setting spray are one way to avoid this, but there are plenty of SPFs formulated for all skintones to avoid white cast. For example, the Supergoop Sheerscreen and Paula's Choice both offer translucent - meaning no actual tint or pigment - sunscreen.  This gives you the SPF protection you need without the annoying SPF smell or white cast. No excuses, SPF is a must. 

Basically, if you didn't know how necessary SPF is - now you do. This will protect your skin, and protect the results from your other skincare products. Make sure to wear SPF daily and reapply every two hours. 

Carly Long

Scranton '22

Carly is a senior studying Strategic Communications with a concentration in Legal Studies at The University of Scranton. This is her third year as CC at HC Scranton, which she hopes to continue to elevate. In her free time Carly can be found writing, working out, or buying new products to feed her skincare addiction.
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