Spring is finally coming to Richmond!
As the weather gets nicer and the flowers start to come out, we’re all going to be spending a lot more time outside. It’s a good time to start to think about sunscreen. In early April it’s still chilly enough around here that we’re still wearing long sleeves and jackets. But soon enough we’ll be out in our shorts, t-shirts, and sundresses. While the sun feels good, its UV rays can damage your skin!
- Major kinds of sunscreen
Sunscreens come in a couple of flavors. Some use chemicals to neutralize the UV rays before they get to your skin. If you look at ingredient lists, you may see names like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. When UV rays hits these molecules, the molecules turn the UV rays into heat energy. Others use minerals to physically block and reflect the UV rays. You’ll see ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These sunscreens get a bad rap because people picture life guards back in the day with the white stuff on their noses. Modern, mineral-based sunscreens go on clear.
2. The truth about SPF
As you probably know, SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor.” This basically means how much more time you can spend outside without burning than if you didn’t have any on at all. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends SPF of 30 or better. You’ll also see products advertising SPF of 70, 80, 90, or even 100. These aren’t necessarily better. Generally above sunscreens above SPF 50 don’t provide superior protection so don’t waste your money. Higher SPFs also don’t last any longer than lower numbers, so be sure to reapply if you’re out for a long time!
3. When you should apply it
Now, the official answer is, “every day,” because even if you’re not going to be outside for an extended period, UV light will still come in through your windows and can affect you year round. Realistically, it depends a bit on your skin. People who are very fair really should wear it every day. People with more olive skin like me can get away without it for a period of time, depending on what you’re doing and how long you’re going to be out. If I’m going to be outside for any amount of time- helping my son’s little league team, for instance- you bet I’m going to be putting it on. If you’re taking a walk along the James River, well, it’s shady enough in most places that if you’re just going to be out for 30 minutes, you’ll probably be fine.
Remember that if it’s cloudy, you still have to apply it! UV rays easily penetrate clouds.
4. Sunscreen prevents sun damage!
Long-time blog readers will know that I talk a lot about skin cancer. Partly that’s because I like removing them and making it look like nothing was ever there.
I also like writing about it because skin cancer can be prevented! UV light causes skin cancer. If you wear sunscreen, you can block the UV light and protect yourself!
UV light also accelerates the aging process. It affects how collagen is laid down in the deeper layers of your skin which leads to premature fine lines, rough patches, and wrinkles. It also leads to pigment abnormalities.
If you weren’t good about sunscreen when you were younger (like me), not all is lost! It’s never too late to start. Furthermore, if you have a skin spot you’re wondering about, or you want to talk about solutions for sun damage, contact us!
We’d love to show you our non-invasive solutions for your sun damage!