Ever since I started my Masters in Aesthetics,Anti-aging & Regenerative Medicine – I’ve obviously started paying more attention to my skin and the aging process. Honestly I was never a big fan of sunscreens – only used them if I was going to the beach or was gonna spend an entire day in the park. Didn’t really like the idea of going to work with an oily face,and sometimes having a ‘white face’ due to the sunscreen lotion. I would buy one bottle a year,and it would be hiding on my rack the entire year!
However,I ditched that habit – and today I never leave home without a layer of sunscreen (especially on my face) !
And i’ll tell you why.
Let me go back to basics,and refresh all our memories about Ultraviolet Radiation. There are 3 types of Ultraviolet Radiation from the sun;
UVA , UVB & UVC
UVC – is the shortest ultraviolet ray and doesn’t reach the earth,cause it’s screened from the earth by the Ozone layer. Though it doesn’t reach us,it’s the most carcinogenic ray, and becomes increasingly problematic for those living at high altitudes.
UVB – is an intermediate wavelength ray. UVB can be absorbed by the ozone layer and the air. Therefore this ray is only partially absorbed by the ozone layer,depending on the wavelength of the ray and thickness of the ozone layer. This ray is usually responsible for your sunburns,and erythematous skin after prolonged sun exposure. UVB usually damages your outermost layer of the skin – called your ‘epidermis’.
UVA – has the longest wavelength, and is not absorbed by the ozone layer. Due to it’s long wavelength,it penetrates mostly into our deeper layers of the skin – called ‘dermis’. With even a low dose of UVA,it can cause photo-damaged skin leading to wrinkles and sagging skin. The issue with UVA is – tissue damage by UVA is cumulative,and the effects will not appear until after years of exposure. So you might not notice any changes now,but in 10-20 years you might have a severely damaged skin. UVA is also linked to development of basal and squamous cell cancers,as well as pre-cancerous lesions. Those who favour tanning beds – they use UVA radiation too.
This is an image I found on Google that best describes these rays in a diagram.
On exposure to our skin, a proportion of these rays are reflected and the remainder is transmitted to our epidermis & dermis. The epidermis absorbs about 90% of UVB and 50% of UVA, while the remainder is absorbed into the dermis.
Now with a little basics of our ultraviolet rays, you would think that all this only occurs during the day while our sun is shining at its peak – you got it wrong!!
Even on a cloudy day, up to 80% of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate your skin. Snow, sand, and water increase the need for sunscreen because they reflect sun’s rays. Whatever is coating the surface of the Earth around you can reflect or scatter UV radiation. Snow reflects the most UV of up to 80% !! So never ditch that sunscreen even during winter !
So how much sunlight do we necessary need?
Insufficient UV exposure can lead to skeletal diseases & Vitamin D insufficiency.While overexposure of UV can lead to skin cancers and eye disease. How much vitamin D is produced from sunlight depends on the time of day, where you live and the color of your skin.You only need to expose your skin for around half the time it takes for your skin to turn pink and begin to burn to get efficient Vitamin D.But i highly recommend you get the vitamin D you need from foods and/or vitamin supplements. This gives you the vitamin D you need without increasing your risk for skin cancer, AND without having to pose under the sun while counting the minutes!
So here are a few tips on how to choose a good sunscreen,and ‘why & how’ to apply them to your daily routine :
- Always look for a sunscreen with ‘Broad-spectrum’ protection written on the tube – cause this protects you from UVA & UVB.
- If it doesn’t have broad-spectrum written on the tube , than make sure it’s stated to have protection against UVA & UVB .
- Choose a sunscreen with Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or greater.
- Water Resistance
- Sunscreen should be generously applied on all sun exposed areas – and reapplied every 2 hours or as indicated by the label.
- “One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass” is the guidelines used to consider the amount of sunscreen required to cover the sun exposed areas of your body.
- Highest UV index is during 11am till 4pm. So make sure you are protected during these times when you’re out for lunch.
- Always apply your sunscreen 15-30minutes before you leave home.
- Cream based sunscreens are best for face and dry skin.
- A sunscreen of SPF 30 can block up to 97% of sun rays. There are no sunscreens that can block 100% of sun rays. So don’t get fooled.
- Yes there are even sunscreens for toddlers and infants from 6 months onwards.
- Wear protective clothing – long sleeve shirt, sunglasses & a hat 😉
- FINALLY – a good sunscreen protects you from aging and sagging skin!
Now, would you still ditch that Sunscreen after this? 😉