Why do I still get a tan when I wear sunscreen?

May 24, 2012 | posted by trish

Have you ever wondered why you still get color in your skin, even when you think you are wearing copious amounts of sunscreen, and even after you have been faithfully reapplying all day?

Let me solve this little mystery for you.

A sunscreen, even a higher SPF, will not protect you 100% from the sun’s rays.  Well, unless you are wearing 100% zinc oxide (like you see on the noses of lifeguards).  Remember that “SPF” actually denotes protection from burning, or the UVB rays.  An SPF 2 provides about 50% protection from UVB rays.  An SPF 15 will give you about 92% protection from UVB.  Then, when you jump to SPF 30, you get about 95%, and an SPF 50 will provide approximately 96 to 97% protection.  It’s never quite 100%.

So guess what?  You will still get a little color in your skin, even when you wear the appropriate amount of sunscreen, or a high SPF.  Unfortunately, tanned skin is a sign from your internal protection systems that your skin was injured – so there really is no “healthy” tan.

And please don’t be misled that a higher SPF means you have longer, or all-day, protection – you still need to reapply every two hours when you are outside or swimming.  Sun exposure mixes with your skin barrier acid mantle and breaks down the protection.  (This explains why you have gotten sunburned after you have been in the sun all day – even though you started the day with SPF 50.)

Most people aren’t quite sure about the right amount to apply, either, so when you apply less than the recommended amount, the protection factor decreases as well.  Be sure you cover your whole body with 1 full ounce (the size of a shot glass) –before leaving the house.  When I know I’m going to be in the sun most of the day, I start with a generous sunscreen application before I put on my bathing suit – then reapply when I get to my destination, and other times throughout the day.  This link explains which SPF to choose and the correct amount to apply: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLINqlX-9yM&feature=g-all-u

Whether you choose Active Shield Lotion SPF 30 or Ultra Shield Lotion SPF 50, the most important message to remember is that when you wear Epionce broad spectrum sunscreen every day you are helping to reduce your risk of skin cancer – and preventing future visible aging.