SPF – why it’s important for ALL complexions

SPF an acronym for Sun Protection Factor. Now that it’s summer time, there is a whole lot more activity outdoors, and the summer sun can be blazingly hot! No one wants to stay indoors all day, but please do protect yourself when you step out.

The experts over at One Medical Group describe SPF as:

The theoretical amount of time you can stay in the sun without getting sunburned. For example, an SPF of 15 would allow you to stay in the sun 15 times longer than you could without protection. So, if your skin starts to redden in 20 minutes without sun block, applying a product with SPF 15 increases that time by a factor of 15, meaning you could stay in the sun for 300 minutes. In addition, a higher SPF blocks out more rays — a product with an SPF of 15 will filter out approximately 93 percent of UVB rays; SPF 30 filters out about 97 percent.

Being a Afro-Caribbean woman, I grew up hearing A LOT that sunscreen was only necessary for our Caucasian and other lighter-complexion sisters. It was said that black women do not need extra sun protection because the melanin in our skin acts as a natural protection factor. FALSE!!! (well, it’s not entirely true). People of color have the highest mortality from skin cancer rate, due to their misleading beliefs. Compared to Caucasians, usually diagnosed  with enough time for treatment and remission, those with anywhere from olive to dark chocolate complexions usually realize and respond too late for help to be beneficial. They wait until skin moles or dark skin spots become “weird looking” and change in appearance before they see a doctor. At that point, the cancer is usually in later stages and less likely to be cured.

(Note: Sunscreen is not just for females and their beauty routines. Men need to incorporate it as well, more so than women. We have a tendency to layer on products, but for the brothers, an spf moisturizer is probably all they’re gonna get.)

Even though wearing SPF won’t 100% ensure that you don’t develop any form of skin cancer, you can greatly reduce your risk. These days, SPF products are a dime a dozen. Companies have realized the importance of protecting their consumers and have incorporated it into everything from lotions to clothing. So there is no excuse for not being fully protected before braving the hot, summer sun.

I recently interviewed Dr. Susan Forman of the Davinci Skin Care Center in King of Prussia, PA about the importance of SPF and what you should look for when choosing the best one. As I stated, she also suggests that persons of all ethnicities need to add some kind of sun protection to their daily routine.

What to Look For

When choosing the best sunscreen option for you, there are certain things you must consider:

  • Ingredients: Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is found in many sunscreen products, but it should not be listed in your sunscreen ingredients. (Realistically, if you have to get regular sunscreen, for your wallet’s sake, make sure the TiO2 is as close to the last ingredient as possible). Research shows that it can potentially lead to certain cancers. TiO2 is used in cosmetics as a filler ingredient. This filler sits on your skin and in no time clogs the heck out of your pores. Especially in sun protection, Zinc oxide should be used instead. Think of real quality cheddar cheese versus Velveeta “cheese” or cheese whiz. That’s zinc oxide and titanium oxide. Use quality ingredients that get the job done without crazy, potential side effects.
  • Protection Level – according to Dr. Forman, sunscreens above SPF 50 are a waste of time and money (her words). Basically, the 30 – 50 range is where you want to be with your protection factor. Anything below 30 is not effective enough and over 50 is just fluff.

Also, Dr. Forman mentioned layering of protection. For example, a couple of my base makeup products have an spf of 15. So when I mentioned it during the interview, she recommended layering. It simply means incorporate multiple sunscreen products into your routine. A facial moisturizer, foundation and even face powders, all with SPF can multiply your sun protection. I was really happy to know that I didn’t have to toss my products.

I have been using sunscreen for years now, it’s become a staple in my routine. If I add nothing else to my face, I at least have on a moisturizer with 25 and above. I also have a foundation with protection factor that I use to double up.

Products typivally containing SPF

  • Facial moisturizers
  • Foundation – liquid, cream and mineral
  • Face powders
  • Lip Balm
  • Lipstick
  • Body lotion
  • Sunscreen lotions/sprays – obviously
  • BB/CC creams
  • Eye creams
  • Clothing

My Favs

Remember those products I mentioned using myself – here are a few:

Kiehl’s Super Fluid Defense spf 50 – This has been an amazing addition to my routine. It goes on smoothly and doesn’t have the stick, greasy feeling like most sunscreens. AND I add a little of this to my favorite daily moisturizer or body lotion and I’m covered!

kiehl's spf

Covergirl Queen All Day Flawless Foundation spf 20 – this 3-in-1 foundation is my fav drugstore buy. I bought it on a whim, just after swatching it on my hand and I have no regrets. The foundation comes in 14 different shades and made specifically for brown girls.


How do you get your sun protection? And if you’re not, I honestly HOPE that you find your nearest drugstore and add it to your routine.



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