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What SPF Does Your Client Need?

Posted: May 3, 2010

Sun protection is an everyday must for anyone concerned with keeping their skin in top shape, and that includes avoiding wrinkles, brown discolorations, building collagen, keeping skin firm and even preventing skin cancer. SPF 15 is the minimum rating to look for and greater is better for some skin colors and conditions; all sunscreens must be liberally applied; and UVA protection is critical. Following are some helpful tips from Paula Begoun, author of Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me (Beginning Press, 2009).

UVA protection depends on the active ingredients in the product you are recommending to clients, so be sure one or more of these active ingredients are included: avobenzone (sometimes listed as butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane), titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, mexoryl (ecamsule) or, outside the United States, tinosorb.

Decisions, decisions

There are several important factors that influence how clients choose and how they should apply a sunscreen.

  1. How long they are going to be in the sun or sitting next to a window (UVA radiation, the sun's most damaging rays, come through windows)? The longer they are going to be in the sun or exposed to UVA radiation via windows, the higher the SPF number they need to apply.
  2. Are they willing to apply your chosen sunscreen liberally? No matter what SPF rating you choose, they have to apply it liberally. If they aren't applying it liberally, always go for a higher number to ensure they are getting as many sunscreen ingredients on their skin as possible.
  3. Will they be swimming or perspiring heavily? If so, recommend that they chose sunscreens labeled "water resistant" or "very water resistant." Be sure to remind them to reapply as directed, especially after toweling off.

Clients will also want to take into consideration their skin types and whether or not they'll be wearing makeup.

  1. Those with normal to dry skin should use sunscreens in a lotion or cream base.
  2. Those with oily or combination skin should go for sunscreens formulated in a lightweight lotion with a matte finish, a liquid or an alcohol-free gel base. Many spray-on sunscreens are excellent for oily skin.
  3. If they're going to be wearing foundation, they can choose one with sunscreen and pair it with a moisturizer with sunscreen and a pressed powder with sunscreen.

What's their rating?

The ideal SPF number is a multiplication figure based on clients' skin color and the SPF number on the product.