Though the sun provides us with vitamin D and other beneficial nutrients, it can also harm us with ultraviolet rays. UVA rays from the sun can damage skin, put you at risk for cancer, and age you prematurely if we don’t take precautions, and UVB rays can burn you.
How The Sun Ages Our Skin
Did you know that one American dies from skin cancer every day, and more than 90 percent of skin cancers are caused by sun exposure?
Overexposure to the sun can lead to premature aging of the skin. Most notably, it can cause unwanted wrinkles and dark spots. The sun does this by emitting its UV rays, also known as Ultra Violet Radiation – this is the primary cause of premature aging.
The UV rays from the sun penetrate deep into your skin and break down your skin’s connective tissue and cells. When this connective tissue (collagen and elastin fibers) breaks down, your skin loses elasticity and reduces the density of the epidermis layer, leaving you prone to wrinkles and skin sagging.
UV rays can also cause skin disorders, pre-malignant skin growths, moles, freckles and premature aging. This type of skin damage can lead to skin cancer and has many names, including photoaging and solar damage.
Protecting Your Skin With Sunscreen
One of the best ways to reduce potential harm to your skin from Ultraviolet Radiation is by applying sunscreen. The active ingredients in sunscreen act as a protective barrier between you and UV rays. These two main ingredients reflect the UV rays and stop them from inflicting immense damage.
What’s in Sunscreen
All sunscreens may have a different array of ingredients, but most that you will find on market shelves will always contain the same six ingredients. Those include the following.
- Titanium Dioxide
- Zinc Oxide
Although you may find all of these in your ordinary sunblock, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the two active ingredients. They are what protect you from the sun’s harmful rays.
It’s also essential that you understand the term SPF. It stands for Sun Protection Factor. That factor is what will protect your skin from the sun’s UVB rays. The higher the SPF, the better protection it offers. SPF does not protect from UVA rays. A sunscreen must be broad-spectrum for it to do so.
How To Use Sunscreen
Sunscreens often come with broad spectrum protection, against both UVA and UVB rays, and will usually give you a sun protection factor number. This refers to the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays.
You want a value that’s higher than 30; a lower one may protect you from burning but not from skin cancer. SPF 30 means that you get the equivalent of one minute of UVB exposure for every 30 minutes you’re in the sun; your protection rate is about 96.7 percent.
Higher SPF numbers do offer slightly more protection, but no sunscreen will completely guard you from UV light. Some health experts recommend not using sunscreens with SPF 50 or higher because they give people a false sense of security, and don’t get reapplied properly.
Remember to use sunscreen liberally 20-30 minutes before going out, and reapply often throughout the day.
Choosing The Best Sunscreen
Did you know not all sunscreens are created equal? Without knowing what to be on the lookout for, finding the best sunscreen can be difficult. Here are a few ‘must haves’ when purchasing sunscreen!
- Includes The Words “Broad Spectrum”: A sunscreen with the broad-spectrum label can protect you from ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet b (UVB) rays. Both of those can cause skin cancer.
- Has a High SPF: Industry experts always recommend purchasing a sunblock with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30 or higher. As we mentioned before, this rating determines how well it can protect the skin from UVB rays.
- Is Water Resistant: Now, you may be thinking you can bypass this factor if you don’t plan on swimming, but that is so far from the truth. In the Summer, it’s no secret that we all perspire – the sunscreen you wear has to withstand this. A water-resistant sunscreen will help prevent it from wearing off and losing its valuable protection.
There are products on the market that claim to prevent sunburn, but are not labeled as broad-spectrum and don’t meet specific regulations. It’s essential to be an intelligent consumer and look out for these little details.
Other Means of Protection
Avoiding the sun is not a realistic prevention measure, but beyond sunscreen, there are some ways you can shield yourself. Wear a hat and sunglasses. Stay in the shade when possible, especially during the prime daylight hours of 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wear clothes, which offer sun protection. Don’t use tanning beds and lamps, because they increase your risk of skin cancer.
Have Guilt-Free Fun in The Sun!
You should be able to have fun in the sun without worrying about how it’s harming your skin. Using a high-quality sunscreen is the best way to do that – it’s the number one anti-aging skincare product!
If you’re looking for the perfect sunscreen, we offer a selection for both the body and face at the WIFH website. You can also visit our Medspa in Atlanta to purchase sunscreen along with many other fantastic skincare products.