We’ve all heard it before, but I’m here to say it again. Sunscreen is your skin’s BFF.
Wearing sunscreen daily (even if you’re just sitting inside near a window or stepping outside for a few minutes) is close to the number one thing you can do to maintain and protect the health and appearance of your skin.
It keeps your skin looking younger and protects you from skin cancer. If you neglect sun care, slowly but surely it will begin to show in the form of age spots, wrinkles, and sagging skin, trust me you’ll be sorry.
In Western culture, bronzed skin is a sign of beauty, but let me tell you right now, there is nothing beautiful about damaged skin. Wheather it’s just a “healthy” glow or a deep bronze, it’s all damage to the skin and can increase the chance of developing skin cancer and age your skin permanently.
Now, my goal isn’t to convince you to hide away in a dark cave and never step into the sunlight again. I want to help you fill your cabinets and makeup bag with tools that will protect your skin health and overall beauty.
So, what the heck do you need to know?
First, let’s talk about the harmful UV rays causing all the destruction.
UV stands for ultraviolet radiation, a form of energy that comes from the sun. It is considered a human carcinogen (a term given to any substance or radiation that is cancer causing) because it causes damage to the skin’s cellular DNA. UV rays act as laser beams that shoot into the dermis and damage collagen fibers (proteins that give the skin structure) and elastin (a protein that creates the spring in the tissue beneath the skin). Your body tries to fix the DNA damage by producing toxic free radicals.
These cause wrinkles, sunspots, and skin cancer, oh my!
The most common form of UV radiation is sunlight which produces three main types of UV rays; UVA, UVB, and UVC.
UVA rays have a longer wavelength that can penetrate the middle layer of the skin, the dermis. An easy way to think about it is the “A” stands for aging ray, it attacks the college in your dermis while speeding up the aging process.
UVB rays have a short wavelength that reaches the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis and penetrates the skin more superficially. Here, the “B” stands for burning. UVB is the main cause of skin cancers and sunburns.
All UVC rays (and some UVB) are absorbed by the Earth’s ozone layer, meaning most of the UV rays you come in contact with are UVA with a small amount of UVB.
When picking a sunscreen, you want to make sure it contains both UVA and UVB protection – this will be labeled broad-spectrum protection. This means it has been tested and passed ensuring it can protect both aging and burning rays.
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and it measures how effective the sunscreen is at blocking UVB rays. There are few different models for measuring SPF.
- One is based on the time it takes your unprotected skin to burn in direct sunlight. The average person starts to burn within 5 to 10 minutes (unless you have fair skin). So, if you are using an SPF 30 take 30 and multiply it by the 10 minutes it takes you to burn. Divide that by 60 (minutes in an hour) and that tells you how long that SPF will last on your skin. 30 x 10 = 300; 5 hours of sun protection.
- The second model is based on the strength of the formula. SPF 15 blocks 93 to 95 percent of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays; SPF 50 blocks 98 percent of UVB rays and so on.
Based on these models you should be reapplying your sunscreen every few hours and even more often if you are sweating or in water. I like to reapply my daily facial sunscreen is by using a translucent facial powder or a facial mist. This way my makeup won’t get ruined and I’ll be dodging those rays fo days!
No matter what the circumstances, you need to be wearing sunscreen on your face and neck daily if you want to protect your skin from premature aging and skin cancer.
It’s extremely important to wear sunscreen after you exfoliate because your skin will be extra sensitive to the sun and its harmful rays. I also use sunscreen on my chest, ears, and hands daily, as these areas (like the face) are always exposed and tend to show signs of aging first.
Sunscreen isn’t the most exciting skincare product and it may not have a noticeable impact at first but your future self will be basking in the glory of a youthful even complexion.