Do I really need sunscreen?

ABSOLUTELY – YES!

Sunscreen is the most important skin care product you can use. Not only for anti- aging properties but also for your health! Sunscreen protects us against ultraviolet radiation from the sun and indoor lights ( Yes, wear sunscreen indoors!). Read below on how you can protect yourself and the benefits of sunscreen.

Understanding Ultraviolet

Ultraviolet light is responsible for the most common type of cancer, skin cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 85,686 people were diagnosed with melanomas and out of that 8,056 were fatal. With the depletion of the ozone layer the risk of cancer from harmful UV rays increase. It is important to note that no matter what skin tone you have UV rays still pose a serious risk. There are three types of ultraviolet rays; UVA, UVB, UVC. All three rays have different wavelengths and affect our skin differently. UVC is the shortest of UV rays, and often does not reach our skin. This ray is not usually considered a risk for skin cancer. UVB and UVA have the most damaging effects on our skin.

UVB Rays

UVB is the second shortest wavelength, chiefly responsible for sunburn. This ray penetrates the outermost layer of skin causing damage to the DNA of skin cells. This ray is strongly linked to cancer. UVB can burn unprotected skin in as little as fifteen minutes. Its intensity fluctuates with the seasons and time of day. While the sun’s rays are strongest and pose the highest risk late-morning to mid-afternoon from spring to fall in temperate climates and even greater time spans in tropical climates, UVB rays can damage your skin year-round, especially at high altitudes or on reflective surfaces like snow or ice.

UVA Rays

UVA rays account for ninety- five percent of UV radiation that reach the earth. It is the longest of the three wavelengths and reaches to the second layer skin. UVA causes pre- mature aging ( wrinkling, sagging ect.) and also contributes to sun damage, though tanning of the skin. UVA rays are less intense than UVB, but penetrate your skin more deeply. Exposure to UVA rays causes damage to skin cells, when this happens the cells release a chemical called tyrosinase, which protects the skin by turning it slightly darker ( a tan). There is absolutely no such thing as a “healthy tan”. Tanning is your skin’s way of saying it is damaged. When skin cells are damaged they can no longer perform causing pre- mature aging and hyperpigmentation. UVA rays maintain the same level of strength during daylight hours throughout the year. This means that during a lifetime, we are all exposed to a high level of UVA rays.

How to protect yourself

Protecting yourself is easy! Put your Sunscreen on! It’s never too late to practice good sun protection to prevent future photodamage. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which will shield skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Look for a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Water-resistant formulas are encouraged. Reapply every two hours or sooner if swimming or exercising.

Chemical Vs. Physical Sunscreen

There are two types of sunscreen, Chemical and Physical sunscreen. Both work to protect you from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Chemical sunscreens contain organic compounds, such as oxybenzone or octinoxate, which change the UV rays into heat and release the heat from the skin. Chemical sunscreens have become more popular because they are easier to rub in and come in multiple formulations tailored to various skin types. Physical sunscreens contain active mineral ingredients, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which deflect UV rays away from the skin. A classic physical sunscreen is the white zinc oxide seen on the lifeguard’s nose. Those days are gone! Today physical sunscreens are more cosmetically elegant. They are perfect for young children because they won’t sting the eyes. They also work well on sensitive skin or post-procedure following chemical peels or laser treatments. When choosing a sunscreen pick one that is right for you and your activity level and remember to reapply!

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