Kallgren Dermatology in Boulder carries a number of products we recommend for everyday skin care. One of these products is the EltaMD line of sunscreens. When it comes to sunscreens the options can be staggering. Which one do you pick? What do all the different letters mean? Which ones are barrier sunscreens and which ones have the chemical reactions? Is a chemical reaction in my skin dangerous? What effect does living at high altitude have on the sun’s rays? In the next few blogs, we hope to answer these questions and more as they pop up.


What are the different types of sunscreen?

There are two main classifications of sunscreen: physical and chemical. Physical sunscreen creates a physical barrier between your skin and the rays of the sun. This type is also known as sunblock and often contains Titanium Dioxide or Zinc oxide. When you think of a lifeguard with white cream on their faces, you are thinking of this type of sunscreen.


What does UVA/UVB and SPF mean?

UVA/UVB designate types of rays of the sun. UV stands for ultraviolet, a part of the light spectrum that is not visible to the naked eye. Although we need to to live, as it helps us metabolize Vitamin D which strengthens our bones, too much of it raised the chance of skin cancer dramatically.

UVA rays are the type of rays that are responsible for the aging of our skin and they account for 95% of our exposure to the sun.  UVA rays penetrate deeply into the skin layers, damaging collagen and cells which lead to wrinkling, hyperpigmentation and loss of elasticity. This type of ray is not absorbed by the ozone layer of our atmosphere so we get the full dose of radiation from the sun.


Check back next week to continue reading about sunscreens and what you can do to protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun.