You’ve probably been told before to wear sunscreen daily. Sure, it claims to protect you from the sun, but how well? Today I’m sharing with you everything you need to know about proper sun protection.
Did you know, only around 20 percent of Americans use sun protection daily? But that doesn’t mean you should skip it.
Why do you need sunscreen?
Sunscreen protects you against UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are Ultraviolet A rays. Think of them as the “aging rays” because they have a longer wave length and accounts for 80% of premature aging.
Premature aging is any wrinkling, sagging, or discoloration of the skin.
However, often you won’t see its affects until much later (20-30 years after even) as it penetrates deep into the layers of the skin.
UVB are Ultraviolet B rays. You can think if them as “burning rays” because they have a shorter wave length and are the reason you get sunburns.
Both can cause serious skin damage.
- Sun exposure is responsible for 90% of visible aging.
- It takes just five sunburns over the course of a lifetime to double your risk of melanoma.
- UV radiation is the main cause of skin cancer.
- UV exposure increases by about 33% for every 20% loss of the ozone layer.
How do you know if your skin is being sufficiently protected?
Look for an SPF 30 or higher. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The amount of SPF is basically a standard for how long you can tolerate the sun without burning.
Also, make sure your sunscreen is protecting your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Some SPF rating systems-including PA+, ++, and +++ are outdated and are from 40 years ago. They only account for UVA rays.
Check that your sunscreen says “broad spectrum” on the label.
Here’s a general guideline to follow:
SPF 15: 150 minutes (2:30 hours)
SPF 30: 300 minutes (5 hours) and so on
Of course you should still be reapplying every two hours for the best protection.
Myth #1: SPF 55 is better than SPF 30.
In 2007, the Food and Drug Administration proposed capping SPF at 50+, but it still isn’t set in stone. As a result, a marketing battle is raging.
Higher SPF misleads people, giving them a false peace of mind. No SPF, not even 100+, offers 100 percent protection.
For example, the difference in UVB protection between an SPF 100 and SPF 50 is marginal. Far from offering double the blockage, SPF 100 blocks 99 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 50 blocks 98 percent. (SPF 30, holds its own, deflecting 96.7 percent).
Myth #2: Higher SPF and labels like water-resistant mean you don’t have to reapply.
This is grossly inaccurate, no amount of SPF will protect you all day. In fact words like “water resistant” on sunscreens are so misleading, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are banning the use of it.
The truth is, there is no such thing as a waterproof sunscreen. That is why you should always reapply after swimming and sweating.
The FDA is also analyzing the effectiveness of wipes, powders and shampoos containing SPF (No decisions have been made yet).
Myth #3: You only need to apply sunscreen in the summer.
UV rays are just as harmful during the winter as they are in the summertime. It’s not like they are just going to disappear, they’re still there working against you.
Even if you spend your days working indoors. UVA rays can penetrate windows, which means you are at risk-no matter where you are.
UV rays are especially harmful in snowy conditions since rays are strengthened due to the reflective nature of snow. This is known as the Albedo effect. This also is why you should protect your skin on cloudy days too.
Have you ever looked into the sky on a cloudy day? It’s very bright and that means UV rays are penetrating through the clouds the way they would your skin.
No matter if you can see the sun or not, it’s still there. That means there is no excuse. You should be wearing sunscreen everyday.
Myth #4: Layering sunscreen equals better protection.
The numbers are based on time spent in the sun, which is why reapplication is essential. Also, for those of you who think that layering on SPF 15 over your SPF 10 will give the protection of SPF 25–think again. Layering does not increase the SPF.
Chemical vs. Physical
Physical sunscreens act as a shield to protect your skin. This means they are not actually absorbed into the layers of the skin.
On the other hand, chemical sunscreen works by absorbing the UV rays. They tend to absorb more into the skin, like a sponge, which can be both good and bad. The benefit is that it won’t leave a white cast like some physical sunblocks.
However, because it can irritate your skin and can enter into your bloodstream-which is not good for your health. Plus, what you are absorbing isn’t always good for you.
So, which do I choose?
Physical sunscreens because they are safer and better at protecting the skin from damage.
Think about it, which protects you better, a sponge or a shield?
And, not all physical sunscreens leave a white cast or are thick and gloppy as many assume.
Free Radical Protection
Antioxidants protect us, fighting off the damaging free radicals. Sunscreen is important because it blocks up to 80% of UV rays, but they do not protect against other free radicals.
Your skin needs antioxidants for protection against all damaging free radicals.
But don’t let these stop you from having fun in the sun. Now that you know all about sunscreen, you can hit the beach without damaging your skin.