Still Not Wearing Sunscreen? Your Skin is at Risk

Everyone loves a sunny day. Whether you’re at the beach or running errands, there’s nothing quite like a bright, blue sky to lift your spirits. Unfortunately, our skin isn’t as fond of the sun. You’re probably already aware that overexposure to ultraviolet rays can cause skin cancer.

Did you know that solar rays are also responsible for dark spots and premature aging? It begs the question: Are you wearing sunscreen every day?

Understanding UV Rays

In order to convince you that SPF products are essential to your beauty routine, let’s imagine what happens when a UV ray shines down on your skin. Ultraviolet rays come in two flavors, UVA and UVB. A third type, UVC, is absorbed by the atmosphere, so we won’t consider it here.

UVA rays are the sneakier of the two; you don’t feel them at work, even though they penetrate deep below the skin’s surface. Here they damage collagen and elastin, two proteins that give skin flexibility. When UVA rays interfere with the production of these substances, they lay the groundwork for wrinkles and crepey skin.

Worse yet, UVA rays are believed to be a factor in the development of skin cancer. Here’s the kicker – only broad-spectrum sunscreens are formulated to shield skin from UVA rays. Don’t leave your skin vulnerable with a run-of-the-mill SPF product.

You can think of UVB rays as the rambunctious ones. Responsible for sunburns, you can usually feel when skin is suffering from overexposure. UVB rays do most of their dirty work on the surface, and are a major contributor to skin cancer. In short, you don’t want to spend too much time hanging out with either of these solar rays.

The Risks Are Real

Everyone will eventually develop wrinkles. We can take care of our skin to minimize the damage, but they’re a natural part of aging. Skin cancer is surprisingly common, but a diagnosis isn’t inevitable.

The Skin Cancer Foundation says one-in-five Americans will develop a form of the disease. Your risk increases with age; 40-50% of people who live to age 65 – not that old, if you think about it – will be diagnosed with a type of skin cancer at least once. You can decrease your odds for developing skin cancer by being sun-smart. A big part of that is the regular application of sunscreen.

Incorporating Sunscreen Into Your Daily Routine

Cosmetics companies have realized the importance of including sun protection in many of their products. However, a good sunscreen still provides better coverage than SPF makeup alone.

Apply sunscreen before facial makeup. Make sure to also slather it on any exposed skin – think your arms, neck, and legs. You’ll need to reapply sunscreen over makeup throughout the day – the exact timing depends upon the SPF of the product. Search the web for helpful guides, like this piece on reapplying sunscreen.

You should also consider adding UV-protective clothing to your wardrobe. This can provide more coverage in a fun, fashionable form. Look for fabrics with a UPF rating, which stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor.

Which SPF Should I Use?

There’s a lot of confusion around SPF ratings and sunscreen. The Sun Protection Factor is an indication of how long a product will protect skin as compared to wearing no sunscreen at all. For example, if you can comfortably stay in the sun for 10 minutes without beginning to burn, an SPF 15 sunscreen would extend this time to 150 minutes, or 2 ½ hours.

SPF ratings only apply to UVB rays. You need a broad-spectrum sunscreen to shield your skin from UVA rays, as well. If you’re going to spend time in the water, look for a sunscreen that won’t wash off quickly.

Children are especially vulnerable to sun damage, so you should take care to apply a safe sunscreen before extended periods outdoors. Dress them in a cute outfit that offers good coverage and comfort.

When it comes to caring for your skin, regularly applying sunscreen is one of the best things you can do for your body.