sun protection vancouverThe sun has been shining in Vancouver and I wanted to share some Q&A’s that I often get asked about the sun. Please take the time to read through and share with your family and friends. And if you like what you read, please click ‘Like’ my FaceBook page. Thanks to all for your continued support!

Before you begin, please keep the following in mind: Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the #1 cause of skin cancer.


What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays?

UVB rays are short penetrating rays that and are responsible for tanning and are the primary cause of sunburn.

UVA rays are longer, deep penetrating rays that lead to the breakdown of collagen and elastic tissue in the skin. Prolonged exposure to UVA rays leads to brown spots, wrinkles and leathery skin.

Most sunscreens offer only UVB protection. Please read the labels.

What is the difference between chemical sunscreens and physical sunscreens?

Physical sunscreens protect skin from the sun by deflecting or blocking the sun’s rays. They usually contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as the active ingredient. Titanium dioxide protects against UVB rays but not all UVA rays. Zinc oxide provides full UVA and UVB protection.

Chemical sunscreens use chemical UV filters and work by absorbing the sun’s rays. Active ingredients in chemical sunscreens are avobenzone, Helioplex, or Mexoryl SX. Chemical sunscreens are best for people with eczema or rosacea because they are less irritating.

If my makeup has SPF in it, should I still apply sunscreen?

Yes. Even if your makeup has an SPF in it, you should still apply sunscreen. Most makeup with SPF contains only a minimum amount of protection; usually only SPF 15. You should wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB protection) under your makeup.

What number SPF should I use?

According to the new regulations of the American Academy of Dermatology, everyone should wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen containing an SPF of 30 or greater.

Should I wear sunscreen even when indoors?

Yes! You should wear sunscreen even if you spend most of your time indoors because UVA rays not only penetrate through window glass, they get magnified.

How often should sunscreen be applied?

Sunscreen should be applied on dry skin 20 minutes before exposure to the sun and re-applied every 2 hours and immediately after swimming or sweating. Tip: Don’t leave your sunscreen out in the sun as it can decompose.

I have darker skin. Do I still need protection?

Everyone regardless of skin color needs protection from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. Wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day is a must as sun damage is cumulative.

Is there a way to tan safely to still get that golden glow?

There is no way to tan safely. You can get that golden glow using a self-tanner without risking any damage to your skin or by getting a good quality spray tan.

While we all love to get a little sun, it can come with some dangerous risks. My advice is to make sure you stay safe and always remember to wear your sunscreen as you enjoy the warmth. While there are many great sunscreens out there, the best one is the broad spectrum sunscreen that is on your skin!

obagi sunscreen

Our OBAGI Sunscreen Collection

I like Sun Shield SPF 50 by Obagi because it offers high-level UVA/UVB protection. (This excellent quality sunscreen cannot be found in the drugstores) It has a beautiful, matte finish that absorbs quickly without feeling greasy or pasty and doesn’t give you that whitish glow-in-the-dark look!

To re-apply, especially to face, neck and chest, I really like my on-the-go mineral sunscreen called Sunforgettable by Colorescience. It’s a very lightweight mineral powder that comes in a brush form, is 30 SPF, broad spectrum and the best part is that you can re-apply right over your makeup!

My last comment is a quote by a great man and my former boss, Dr. Alastair Carruthers, “sun avoidance, sun protection, sunscreen – in that order of importance!”

Have fun in the sun and stay safe!

Helen Taraviras Zambus