Sunscreen is of the utmost importance when protecting against sun damage, skin cancer, and premature aging. Here’s what you should know about this essential skin care product.
Published: June 29, 2021
It’s no secret that time spent exercising, playing, and relaxing in the great outdoors improves our physical and mental health. The sun provides our bodies with valuable vitamin D, which is crucial to all sorts of physical processes including sleep, digestion, metabolic regulation, energy, and mental clarity.
However, we must enjoy the sun cautiously and with care because spending time outside also means sun exposure. The largest organ in our body, our epidermis, is constantly exposed to the sun’s damaging uv rays.
Fortunately, the invention of sunscreen and other sun protectants helps us safely and enjoyably embrace mother nature. You likely know the importance of sunscreen and have heard the host of benefits it has to offer. Here we examine just how important sunscreen is and how it works to protect your skin.
Light from the sun is on an eight-minute delay because of its distance from the earth. Sunlight is actual electromagnetic radiation made up of three types: UV radiation, visible, and infrared (also known as heat). UVA and UVB rays fall under the sun’s UV radiation category and are responsible for sun damage, skin cancer, sunburn, and tanning.
We’ve most likely heard of the harmful effects of these rays and how they induce premature aging, sun damage, and skin cancer. Sun damage comes in a variety of forms and often isn’t seen immediately. It takes time for the photo damage to build up in our cells and provide visible examples. Some signs of sun damage may include:
Unseen signs of sun damage are much more hazardous. Skin cancer can affect anyone, in fact, it’s the most common form of cancer in the United States. Basal and squamous cell carcinomas account for a greater majority of skin cancers, however, melanoma can still develop down the line. Dermatology departments harp on the importance of sunscreen in preventing melanoma and other skin cancers.
The importance of sunscreen has been proven through countless studies and decades of research. Using sunscreen drastically reduces risk factors resulting from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. The term SPF means “sun protection factor” and doesn’t directly relate to how much time one can spend in the sun before receiving the damaging effects of its rays.
The SPF rating listed on sunscreens indicates how much UVB radiation the sunscreen can protect against. For example, “SPF 50” means that it would take 50 times longer to burn than not wearing any sunscreen. SPF numbers are not exact as UVB radiation can be increased or decreased according to time of day, weather, environment, pollution, and more.
The term broad spectrum indicates a sunscreen’s ability to protect the wearer against both types of ultraviolet radiation (UVA and UVB). Products with the term “broad spectrum” must pass the FDA’s broad-spectrum test and have an SPF rating of over 15 if they claim to prevent skin aging and skin cancer. Since UVA rays do not cause visible sunburns, efficacy of SPF protection cannot be determined like it can with UVB rays which is why the FDA must test it’s efficacy.
Chemical sunscreens have traditionally held a larger market share, although physical sunscreens are becoming increasingly popular. Chemical sunscreen absorbs into the skin and then absorbs UV rays, converts the rays into heat, and releases them from the body. Ingredients in chemical sunscreens may contain at least one of the following ingredients:
Physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin and actually block the sun's rays. They can either contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. They don’t rub in easier but offer visible protection that can be monitored through a day in the sun. Those with sensitive skin may opt for physical sunscreen as the skin is less able to absorb its ingredients.
Both physical and chemical sunscreens come in a variety of forms, including creams, gels, lotions, and sprays. Depending on your area of concern, choose a product that is meant for that area.
CREAM: Select this for sensitive areas like the face, neck, and hands. These areas are likely to show visible signs of aging quicker than other areas, so a high-quality, SPF 30+ broad spectrum sunscreen is a must.
GELS: Areas with hair can be difficult to cover with a creamy sun lotion. Gel rubs in, doesn't catch on the hair, and provides even coverage.
SPRAYS: Hard to reach areas can benefit from a spray sunscreen. The back of the legs, shoulders, back of the neck, and back of the arms are more easily and effectively reached with a spray sunscreen.
When the inevitable happens and your skin gets burned, proper treatment is key to avoiding the worst of the pain and damage. Here are some helpful hints in treating sunburned skin.
Dermatologists and skincare experts cannot underscore the importance of sunscreen enough. Be sure to wear sunscreen when spending any amount of time outdoors. Incorporate a face sunscreen into your summer skincare routine. Your skin’s health remains incredibly important to your overall physical and mental wellbeing. Treat it well by using optimal sunscreens and skincare products like those crafted by [ comfort zone ].
Our science-backed skincare is gentle and effective for all skin types. We use beneficial skincare ingredients in each product, like antioxidants, vitamins, and natural oils. Plus, as a certified B Corp, we’re reinvesting in the planet through our practices, working to ensure the health and longevity of this place we all call home.
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