The Importance of Sunscreen & Sun Protection
Summer is here, and while the place you're in might not always be sunny, you'll still want to think about sun safety when ever you go outside during the summer months. When it comes to sun protection and why you should pay attention to it, there are plenty of reasons why you should be applying sunscreen and making sure to stay protected from the sun with other methods.
Why Is Sun Protection Important?
The importance of sunscreen may be summed up in just a few words at the most basic level: it protects your skin from the sun. The sun emits natural energy in the form of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can cause skin damage.
There are two kinds of UV radiation, both of which cause various forms of harm when exposed to them in excess: Ultraviolet A (UVA) is linked to skin premature aging, whereas UVB is linked to sunburns.
Your outer layer of skin is made up of cells that contain melanin, a pigment that works to keep your skin protected from the sun's rays. However, melanin can only go so far; too much UV ray exposure can make these cells darken and ultimately shed.
Our skin grows thinner and more brittle as we age due to years of cumulative sun exposure. These contribute to early natural aging effects, making skin more vulnerable to the sun's rays and less capable to heal damage.
Furthermore, aged skin generates less perspiration, making it more difficult to keep the body cool. As a result, you're more susceptible to overheating and sunstroke.
Skin injury is easily caused by exposure to the sun. Sunscreens can help protect your skin, lower your chance of developing skin cancer, and prevent additional damage.
Sunscreen protects your skin by acting as a barrier for your skin cells protecting it from different types of damage. Such effects can take the following forms: sunburns that are severe or frequent, skin with popped blood vessels, wrinkles caused by premature skin aging, and skin cancer.
Solar exposure puts you at an increased risk of sun damage, regardless of your skin type. When looking for a sunscreen, search for the term "wide spectrum," which implies it will protect your skin from both UVA and UVB ultraviolet radiation. In addition, find a water-resistant option if you plan on swimming.
What Is SPF? Why Is It important?
The sun protection factor (SPF) of a sunscreen is a number that indicates how efficiently it blocks harmful UV rays. More protection is indicated by higher numbers. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher is recommended.
Make sure you’re reapplying your sun protection since sunscreen fades with time. If you spend more than two hours in the sun, or if you swim, sweat, or towel off, put it on again.
It's also important to check the date of expiration. Sunscreen with no expiration date has a maximum shelf life of three years. If it has been exposed to extreme temperatures, its shelf life is reduced.
Before going outside, use wide spectrum sunscreen that filters both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of 15 or above. Remember to apply a strong coating of sunscreen to all exposed skin. Get assistance with difficult-to-reach areas like your back. Remember that sunscreen works best when used in conjunction with other products.
Sunscreen is not suggested for babies under the age of six months. The US Food and Drug Administrationexternal symbol advises keeping newborns out of the sun during the noon hours and covering them with protective clothes if they must be outside.
Protecting Your Skin — The Three “S’s”
In order to avoid any skin damage and increased signs of aging, there are three effective strategies to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays: sun avoidance, sun-protective clothing, and sunscreen.
Stay Out of the Sun
One simple strategy to protect your skin from sun exposure is to stay totally out of the sun. Staying in the shade beneath an umbrella, tree, or another covering can help you avoid UV damage and skin cancer. When you're outside, even in the shade, the best way to protect your skin is to use sunscreen or wear protective gear.
But the sun also has several physiological advantages, including improved mood and you might not want to stay fully in the shade while it’s a nice day out. In this case, your best bet is to limit prolonged sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., which is considered peak sun hours.
Wear Sun-Protective Pieces
Wear protective clothing like lightweight long sleeve shirts, rashguards, and long pants to cover exposed skin. Fabrics that are tightly woven offer more protection than those that are loose. Remember that clothes should be worn in conjunction with sunscreen, not instead of it.
It’s also a good idea to wear a hat with a brim all the way around that shields your face, ears, and back of your neck for the most protection. To protect your skin from UV radiation, use a tightly woven fabric like canvas. Avoid wearing straw hats with holes that allow sunlight in. Wearing a hat with a deeper color can also provide additional UV protection.
Whenever you wear a baseball cap, it's best to also cover your ears and the nape of your neck with clothing, sunscreen, or simply stay out of the sun to protect your exposed areas.
Make Sure To Apply Sunscreen
Use it whenever you'll be going outside. Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the sunscreen options? A basic understanding of the types of sunscreen might be beneficial.
To begin, every sun lotion has a "sun protection factor" label (SPF) that protects against UV exposure. This value indicates how efficient the sunscreen is in preventing sun damage from UVB rays. If you have sensitive skin and generally burn after 10 minutes in the sun, a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 would provide you with 15 times the protection, meaning you would burn after 150 minutes in the sun.
However, it's not as simple as that, because several things influence how well your skin is protected from the sun. For example, if you go into the water, your sunscreen — even higher SPF — will be washed off much earlier than the 150-minute mark.
Essentially, the higher the SPF, the more protection against UVB light there is...to a degree. SPF 15sunscreen blocks around 93% of UVB radiation, SPF 30 filters out about 97%, and SPF 50 filters out about 98%. Any advantage above SPF 50 is insignificant.
Lastly, you'll want to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that shields you from both UVA and UVB rays. This shouldn't be an issue because, as of December 2012, all sunscreens must block UVA and UVB rays, whether they’re zinc-oxide based, titanium dioxide-based, or otherwise.
What Happens if You Never Wear Sunscreen?
If you don't protect your skin you'll expose your skin to unpleasant sunburns, premature wrinkles, dark patches, and skin cancer.
Skin cancer has come to increase due to sun damage. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, by the age of 70, one out of every five Americans will have skin cancer. If you don't use sunscreen and get sunburned frequently, you'll increase your chances of developing melanoma, a deadly kind of skin cancer.
Skin cancer, sunburns, and accelerated aging can all be avoided by just putting on sunscreen while going outside. Wearing sunscreen every day to protect your skin from these effects is a fantastic way to avoid an emergency.
Sun Protection Tips
Here are some useful tips in order to use sunscreen effectively:
- Get one with a minimum of 15 and ideally 30 SPF.
- Start applying sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before you want to go out in the sun.
- Reapplysunscreen every two hours at the barest minimum, and more frequently if you're in the water.
- Pick a good sunscreen with extra moisturizer if you have dry skin.
Other sun safety advice to keep in mind:
- Don't forget to apply sunscreen on the tops of your ears and your head, which are sometimes ignored (especially if you have thin or no hair).
- Use a sunscreen-containing lip balm to protect your lips.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Beware that the sun might also harm your eyes so protect your eyes with wraparound sunglasses.
One common question that comes up is: Do I Have To Worry About Sun Protection On Cloudy Days? While the clouds prevent a significant amount of UVB or burning rays from coming through, they don’t block the UVA rays, also known as the rays that actually tan your skin.
As a result, while there is a lower risk of sunburn, the skin is exposed to the more penetrating UVA radiation, which leads to tanning and wrinkles. As a consequence, even on gloomy days, it is important to shield yourself from the sun.
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