Time and time again, you have been told by advertisements, doctors, or other medical professionals that wearing sunscreen is essential, but it can be hard to understand the benefits of wearing it until it’s too late and you’ve got a bad sunburn! Wearing sunscreen daily, especially during the summer months, can make a huge difference in your skin’s health and appearance, especially later down the road. In fact, studies have shown that individuals under the age of 55 who use sunscreen regularly have a 24% less chance of developing early signs of aging, compared to their non-sunscreen/occasional sunscreen wearing counterparts.
Sunscreen 101 dictates that wearing it lowers the risk of getting sunburns, which if severe enough have the potential to escalate to skin cancer. People who have received repeated sunburns are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with melanoma (the most dangerous kind of skin cancer) later down the road. This type of skin cancer can be life threatening to all ages, even people in their twenties.
The first and most important thing to look for when shopping for sunscreen is the “broad spectrum” protection. This label means the protection offered covers both UVA and UVB rays and has gone through specific tests to receive this certification. UVB rays are what causes the standard sunburn, but UVA rays are what can cause skin cancer and signs of premature aging. It is also essential to understand that the SPF count is the percentage of protection the product offers against UVB rays. It’s recommended that you use at least SPF 30 or higher, as SPF 15 only filters out 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out 97%, SPF 50 filters 98%, and finally SPF 100 screens 99%. Unfortunately, there is not an SPF count that filters out 100% of protection. We should also note that the FDA requires any sunscreen with SPF below 15 to carry a warning that it only protects against sunburn, not skin cancer or skin aging. When searching for a “water-resistant” option, you should know that no sunscreen is considered water or sweat-proof, which is why it is recommended to continuously re-apply every two hours, even more often if you are in the water or breaking a sweat.
When examining the ingredients list, specific ingredients are vital to making sure your sunscreen is effective, such as titanium oxide, for promoting healthy skin, octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC), avobenzone (also parasol), zinc oxide, which all offer basic, everyday protection.
As far as sunscreen goes, another way to protect your skin from the blazing summer sun is by simply covering up. Be sure you are wearing clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to protect your skin as much as possible. It’s also important to wear sunglasses, which can protect your eyes from 99% of UV light. Limiting direct exposure to the sun between the hours of 10am and 4pm, when UV rays are most active, will also be beneficial to your skin.
We hope you find these tips helpful and beneficial with summer quickly approaching!