Know Your SPF: Your Skin Will Thank You

With the first day of summer only days away (make sure to celebrate the occasion this Saturday!), it’s officially time to rethink your skin regimen and properly shield yourself from those sizzling summer rays. As always, Elliven is here to simplify your summer beauty routine!

What do SPF ratings mean?

A Sun Protection Factor rating tells how well your sunscreen blocks ultraviolet B rays (UVB).

Many people assume that the highest possible number is the best protection, but Florida dermatologist James Spencer, MD says this isn’t necessarily the case.

“It is logical for someone to think that an SPF of 30 is twice as good as an SPF of 15, and so on. But that is not how it works.”

Spencer recommends SPF 30 to his own patients, which blocks 97% of UVB rays. SPF 45 blocks about 98%.

“After that, it just gets silly,” he says.

What’s the difference between waterproof and water-resistant sunscreens?

As of the newest FDA ruling, sunscreen is no longer allowed to be labeled as waterproof or sweatproof. Water-resistant sunscreen is your best pick when you’ll be swimming or sweating, and the label designates how long you’ll be protected (40 or 80 minutes).  

What’s the best SPF defense for anti-aging?

Any SPF is anti-aging – in fact, a recent study ranked SPF 15+ suncreen the best daily defense against aging!

But here are the créme de la créme (literally) that combine SPF with anti-aging benefits, as tested by Good Housekeeping and Prevention in 2013:

NIA 24 Sun Damage Prevention UVA/UVB Sunscreen SPF 30 ($45;


“This is not just any SPF. NIA's is loaded with niacin to minimize sunspots, while ceramides and antioxidants protect against future damage, too.”

Philosophy Miracle Worker SPF 55 Miraculous Anti-Aging Fluid ($58;

“This peptide-rich moisturizer won a Prevention Beauty Award for its ability to fill in fine lines quickly while reducing redness long-term. Plus, the SPF 50 stops future signs of aging before they start.”

DermaDoctor Photodynamic Therapy Sunlight-Activated Laser Lotion SPF 30 ($65;

“DermaDoctor used a special polyphenol to convert the sun’s rays to a type of red light comparable to the light used to build collagen during professional laser treatments.”

Neutrogena Facial Moisturizer with SPF 30 ($22;

“Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Moisturizer SPF 30 was a hit with testers, who reported that it improved skin tone, softened fine lines, and firmed skin. Lab tests confirmed that the retinol-infused day cream firmed and evened out skin while dispensing a dose of hydration.”

Roc Facial Moisturizer with SPF 30 ($29;

“If you're looking for a non-retinol option, RoC Multi Correxion Lift Anti-Gravity Day Moisturizer SPF 30 ($29 for 1.3 oz.) fills the bill. Lab analysis showed it was tops at improving texture and one of the best at diminishing spots. Women found it reduced fine lines.”

How often do I need to apply sunscreen?

When you’re outdoors, reapply every two hours or after swimming, drying off, or sweating.

“You can’t just put it on in the morning and forget it,” Spencer says. “I don’t care if it’s SPF 800 or the best UVA protection. After a few hours, it’s gone.”

Do I need to apply sunscreen if I’m working indoors?

Yes. Windows do block UVB rays – the ones that cause your skin to burn – you’re still exposed to skin-damaging UVA rays, which are present even on cloudy  or snowy days. Use an SPF moisturizer daily on your exposed skin, or a mineral powder sunscreen, which is a great alternative for those with oily skin.

What products do you recommend from Elliven?

We love Jane Iredale’s cruelty-free products, and you can pick them up right in our store!

All of her sunscreen products are water-resistant to 40 minutes.

Also, trend alert: sun hats aren’t just for the beach anymore! Refresh your style with a fun hat or airy caftan, like these from Urban Outfitters:

Need a little sunshine right now? Enjoy a throwback jam to Sheryl Crow’s hit Soak Up the Sun. Watch for her applying her own sunscreen around the 10-second mark!

In Beauty,

Posted on June 16, 2014 .