The truth about SPF

Big news! The rules on UV protection are changing. We’ve got the latest scoop on keeping your skin happy, healthy and younger-looking all year long

SPF beauty skincare facts sunscreen

Scope Beauty

Whether the revolution started in the lab of innovative skincare companies or in the back halls of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), we’ll never know for sure. But when the FDA recently announced it was updating labelling guidelines for sun-protection products, beauty companies noticed. That means as early as next summer cosmetic brands will be a lot more serious about the science behind their products and how they tell you about them.

So what’s new? The buzz is all about UVA — which has been proven to cause the most long-lasting damage to skin health. Research shows these rays are the real culprits behind premature wrinkles, dark spots, uneven complexion, inflammation, sagging — and even skin cancer.

Right now most products focus almost exclusively on SPF, or Sun Protection Factor. But we’re learning SPF measures only UVB levels (the rays that cause sunburn). So if you’re concerned about aging (and really, who isn’t?), you need to tune in to UVB and UVA protection. The problem is even if you use broad-spectrum sunscreen, which claims to protect against UVB and UVA, there’s no way of knowing just how much UVA you’re getting because standard guidelines don’t exist in North America.

Enter the FDA’s new labelling regulation, which proposes that suncare products list the UVA protection right on the bottle. You may already be familiar with this practice if you’ve been shopping in a Paris or Tokyo drugstore, where sunscreen bottles feature one important extra symbol: PA+, PA++ or PA+++. Also, in the U.K., they’ve embraced the Boots five-star rating.

Now Health Canada is re-evaluating its labelling requirements too, and expects to establish its own guidelines for UVA protec- tion soon. Until then, look for products that have science behind them, like our three game changers below.

1. Neutrogena Age Shield Face Moisturizing Repair Sunscreen
Today’s most effective sunscreens, like Neutrogena’s Dry-Touch line, are smart and sheer and protect against UVA and UVB rays. They avoid the age-old aesthetic concerns—the sticky, oily, make-your-face-look-white type of problems — with water-like formulas that absorb excess oils and leave skin soft and radiant. They make sunscreen as easy to use as your favourite moisturizer. And because they’re not oily, they sit well under makeup, all year.

Age Shield Face Moisturizing Repair Sunscreen, SPF 55, $16, Neutrogena.

2. Clinique Moisture Surge Tinted Moisturizer
A good broad-spectrum option, like Clinique Moisture Surge (which has the FDA-recommended 3:1 ratio of UVA/UVB protection), pulls double duty. And it’s unscented which is helpful since fragrance can irritate the skin and lead to the formation of dark spots after sun exposure. It’s a great solution to combat this visible sign of premature aging.

Moisture Surge Tinted Moisturizer, SPF 15, $30, Clinique.

3. Biotherm Skin Vivo Uniformity Moisturizer
The latest developments from Biotherm offer a science-based approach to UVA protection. Instead of a higher SPF, Skin Vivo Uniformity goes for a lower one with an even balance of UVA and UVB filters for uniform protection. This five-in-one problem solver is also an anti-aging power tool that stimulates key proteins like collagen and elastin, works as an antioxidant and exfoliant, and protects and strengthens the skin.

Skin Vivo Uniformity Moisturizer, SPF 15, $70, Biotherm.

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