Sunscreen is one of the only ways to protect your skin from the harmful UV rays coming from the sun. Why is it so important to wear sunscreen?
Sun damage is caused by both UVA (absorbed beneath the surface of your skin) and UVB (absorbed on the top layer of skin and causes sunburns and tanning) rays. Both rays can cause serious damage to your skin and your overall health! Sun damage causes:
- Premature aging means earlier formation of wrinkles and skin discoloration like age spots or sun spots. Dilated blood vessels and changes in skin texture may also result from excessive sun exposure.
- Sunburns are uncomfortable and actually cause more damage than just a bit of pain on the surface of your skin.
- Skin cancer may show up in any person of any age. However, it’s more common in people above age 40 because it often takes a buildup of several years of cumulative exposure for the cancer to form.
When should you wear sunscreen and how should it be applied?
You should be wearing sunscreen on a consistent basis! This is the case even when it’s cloudy or when you’re driving. Unfortunately, UVA rays (the ones that penetrate deep) can still get through glass. So, even if you don’t burn, your skin is still absorbing the harmful rays.
When leaving your home, it’s smart to apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes beforehand (that’s right—even during the winter or when it’s cloudy out). Apply it to any bare-skinned area. When choosing a sunscreen, find one that has an SPF of at least 30. Also, your sunscreen choice should protect you from both UVA and UVB rays.
Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours, even sooner if you are partaking in an activity involving water or sweating. Sunscreen can easily rub or wash off, even if it’s labeled a “sports sunscreen”.
Finally, don’t forget your lips! Your lips are still skin and have an equal risk when it comes to skin cancer and sun damage. Wearing a protective lip balm can make a difference!
Other Ways to Protect Your Skin
- Don’t tan in or outdoors! Indoor tanning is equally as harmful as the natural UV rays from the sun. The tan isn’t worth it.
- Wear clothes with coverage. Long sleeves, pants, sunglasses, and wide-brimmed hats all help keep the sun off your skin.
- Look for shade. This is especially the case between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. because that’s when the sun is most powerful.
- Watch for reflection. Even if you’re physically in the shade, UV rays may still bounce off sand, snow, water, and other surfaces.