The warmer, summer months are upon us which means outdoor activities will be reigning supreme once again. Before you take off on your sun-filled adventures it is important to emphasize the importance of lathering up (and reapplying consistently) on sunscreen.
In this article we explain why you need to wear sunscreen every day, how it helps and things to look for as you pick the right protection for you.
Why You Need Sunscreen
While it is true that your skin naturally comes equipped with its own sun defense, it isn’t strong enough to protect from extreme sun exposure day-to-day. You see, the sun hits you in two different ways. Ultraviolet A rays which are responsible for speeding up the aging process and Ultraviolet B rays which cause your skin to burn.
Constant, unprotected exposure to these rays can result in long-term damage such as wrinkles, sagging skin, age spots, roughness, and brown pigmentation. The worst and most dangerous side-effect is cancer which if not caught early can spread and cause other problems.
How Sunscreen Helps
Sunscreen acts as an extra barrier between your skin and the sun. It is another line of defense to what your skin already provides in the way of protection and does a better job of blocking harmful UV radiation.
What to Look For
While it is impossible to totally block out the sun’s damage, picking the right SPF (sun protection factor) and PA (protection grade of UVA rays) levels can go a long way to keeping you safer and minimizing irreversible damage.
Simply put the higher the SPF level, the more protection you will receive from UVB rays for a longer period of time (to a point). You will want to look for something with an SPF of 30 (blocks up to 97% of UVB rays) or higher.
You have probably guessed that PA levels are responsible for protecting you against UVA rays. PA protection is indicated by the + sign and the more of these signs present on the packaging, the more protection you will receive. Three + signs will give you adequate protection against premature aging and skin cancer.
Sunscreen comes in two forms: physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin and do not penetrate deeply which is great for people prone to breakouts. They also contain active minerals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that work to deflect light. Chemical sunscreens on the other hand sink into the skin and work to absorb the ultraviolet radiation and relegating sunlight to just the top-most layers of your skin.
It is also important to note that tanning lotion and sunscreen are not the same thing. In fact, sunscreens with an SPF of 15 and lower are considered tanning lotion and not sunscreen.