I scream for sunscreen
It's the single skin care product that will, absolutely, without a doubt, keep our skin looking young, healthy and tight for as long as possible. We all know what it is, and we all have used it before, yet most of us seldom apply it and, when we do, we do it sparingly.
I grew up thinking sunscreen was there just to keep me from getting burned, and I made sure to apply as little as I could get away with. A few years later I started listening to The Cure, wearing all black and staying away from sunlight but unfortunately that didn't stop me from having problems with hyperpigmentation and broken capillaries later in life. Today I know sun damage is cumulative, can take decades to become visible, and isn't easily reversible. So just because we didn't get burned, or tanned, it doesn't mean it isn't happening!
In fact, the redness and burning of the skin are actually caused by UVB rays, which affect the superficial layers of the epidermis. And then there are the UVA rays, sneaky little devils that can penetrate much deeper into the skin, silently inciting the production of evil enzymes that break down our precious collagen. UVA rays are the main culprits behind premature ageing such as wrinkles, brown spots and sagging skin. Together they damage our skin's DNA, which can also result in cancer.
Are you terrified yet? Because UVA rays can actually age you through a glass window and these are the kind of things that keep me up at night! The sun is a deadly laser and it will eventually blow up and kill us all - I'm just kidding, don't let the internet scare you! The sun also lights up our lives, and it's a great source of Vitamin D which has made the use of sunscreen quite the controversy.
Despite the debate, there isn't enough scientific evidence to support the claim that wearing sunscreen causes Vitamin D deficiency. In fact, studies have shown that people who use sunscreen daily and diligently are able to maintain healthy Vitamin D levels. For most of us living in the city, a healthy diet and supplements might be the best alternative anyway.
To make sure you choose a good sunscreen, look for those which are water resistant and, most importantly, with broad spectrum protection. What does this mean?
The SPF rating system tells you how much protection you get from UVB, that is, against sunburns. An SPF 50 will provide you with 98% of UVB protection. Also, if it takes you 15 minutes to get sunburnt, the SPF factor will protect you 50 times that - which in total would give you about 7 hours. The term “broad spectrum” here means your sunscreen will also provide protection against UVA rays, which is essential, so look for one that explicitly states that it contains UVA protection. It's usually measured with a PA rating (such as PA+ or PA+++), but unfortunately this isn't always stated in packages in most western countries.
In short, we should be wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 every day, even if it's cloudy outside or if we're inside, standing by a window. During these summer months, make sure you apply liberally and reapply every couple of hours regardless of the SPF rating because sunscreens do wear off. Sunscreens that are water resistant exist so they don't come off when you sweat, but they won't withstand a good soak.
Being consistent and responsible with your sunscreen may sound tedious but it's easy to get used to it, and with all of the new lightweight formulas on the market you can't complain that it's sticky and gross anymore. So, wear sunscreen!
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