You’ve heard a zillion times that sunscreen is crucial to the health of your skin but do you use it? Lazy girls, we know you look a tad bit guilty! We get it though—it’s an additional step in your skincare routine but if you really want to respect your skin, sun protection in the form of sunscreen is key.
Sunshine is a mixed blessing
On the plus side, moderate sun exposure is known to have health benefits. Sun rays are our primary source of Vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones and a better immune system. It also helps to improve your mood and de-stress. But overexposure to the sun can get damaging. This is why sun protection should be taken seriously!
So how much damage can sun rays cause?
Sun rays, also called UV rays, are responsible for most of the changes in our skin. As we expose our skin to the sun, in the absence of sun protection, the sun rays damage the skin fibers called elastin.
When elastin breaks down, the skin loses its ability and tenacity to stay firm. Eventually, it begins to sag and stretch, resulting in the appearance of what we all dread the most—wrinkles. The skin also loses its resilience and becomes more susceptible to burns, bruises and pigmentation.
UV rays are also known carcinogens, meaning exposure to sun rays in extreme cases can cause cancer, specifically skin cancers. Jeez!
“But I don’t go out in the sun”.
Is this what you’re saying to yourself? It doesn’t matter. Sun rays can reach you everywhere (much like a stalker-ish ex-boyfriend). It may not feel like that on cloudy days or evenings or if you spend most of your time indoors, but you are at the risk of sun exposure everywhere. So it’s best to be safe than sorry!
How can sunscreen help in giving sun protection?
Simply put sunscreens act like a screen between the harmful rays and your skin (hence, the name). All sunscreens come with SPF, short for sun protection factor. SPF tells us how effective the sunscreen is in protecting your skin when it’s exposed to the sun.
The higher the SPF number, the better (and longer) the sun protection. Intuitive much? Almost.
True sun protection is much more than just a high number on scale but experts generally suggest going for an SPF 30 or above. So when a product says “broad spectrum SPF”, it implies that it offers sun protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
Chemical VS physical sunscreens
They work by absorbing UV light and release it as heat from the body. If you read the product labels, you will see ingredients such as octinoxate, oxybenzone, or avobenzone.
Popularly known as mineral sunscreens, physical sunscreens protect the skin by actually physically blocking and reflecting UV light. These contain either Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide.
A chemical sunscreen takes about 20 minutes to begin working and has a lighter formula. This form of sun protection can be used by those that sweat a lot during the day. Physical sunscreens, on the other hand, are better for people with sensitive or acne prone skin. These are thicker in consistency.
Sun safety tips for the win
To start with, always opt for protective clothing when out in the sun. While the weather may tempt you to wear your swimsuits and shorts, be aware that the more skin you expose to the sun, the more damage it will cause.
Don’t forget your eyes! Direct exposure to UV rays can cause serious eye problems too. Sun protection in the form of accessories like sunglasses and hats shield your face from the rays.
Limit your sun time. Try and schedule your outdoor activities when the sun is a little forgiving (before noon or post 4pm). If you must, try and find some shade. Rushing to a meeting? Wear sunglasses. Having some beach fun? Bring a beach umbrella.
So there you go— now you know sun protection is essential. Whether you’re wearing makeup or it’s cloudy/raining outside—make sunscreen your BFF.