Having fun in the sun doesn’t have to mean getting your skin in trouble. After all, nobody wants to soak in the summer sun at the expense of good health, right? Every time we go outdoors, we always hear that faint voice of our loving mothers reminding us to wear sunscreen to keep ourselves protected. More than to keep our moms satisfied, do we really know the implications of not giving our skin the proper sun care it deserves? Here are the biggest and most in-depth reasons as to why you should slather on that sunblock as generously as you can this summer.
What’s so harmful about the sun?
Before we get into the effects of the shining sun on our skin, it’s important to first break down exactly what these ultraviolet rays are. When we talk about UVA, we’re referring to longer wavelengths that damage collagen, effectively speeding up the aging process. It is present throughout the whole day and can cause photosensitivity reactions. When it comes to UVB, this refers to shorter wavelengths that penetrate through to the epidermis. This results to sunburn and can be cancerous; these are also most intense from 10am to 4pm. As for UVC rays, luckily, they are screened by the ozone layer and fail to reach our earth’s surface. This is why it’s important to check your sunscreen properly to see whether or not it protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. This kind of broad protection will keep you safe from certain skin cancers, and it’s only a matter of checking your sunblock label.
Another common practice that’s harmful to the skin is trying to get a tan. While it’s popular for people, especially for the youth, to get different tans, sun damage over time causes more wrinkles, uneven appearances, thickening, inconsistent pigmentation, and obvious blood vessels. The dangers of sun exposure include dry, discolored, and leathery skin that bruises more easily. Developing melanoma is also one of the biggest risks of dangerous sun exposure. The risk of getting this type of skin cancer is particularly high for individuals living in high altitudes, sunny climates, and with long term exposure to strong ultravaiolet radiation. Be wary of UV radiation especially since our country is nearer to the equator.
Now, isn’t the sun supposed to be good for us? It’s true that the sun does have its benefits, especially because sunlight helps our body to make vitamin D. Today, though, because many different kinds of food items are now fortified with vitamin D, you can get your vitamin D requirements from a healthy vitamin D rich diet. Opt to consume eggs, dairy, milk, liver, fish, and vitamin D supplements to fulfill daily requirements of 600 IU or 15mcg. If you want to go and workout under the sun, limit your outdoor activities to about 5-30 minutes twice a week, and not during the most intense noon times.
What’s so important about wearing sunscreen?
Our body always needs to be protected and shielded from the sun’s harmful rays, and because the ozone layer is depleting, sunscreen is now more important than ever. Aside from protecting us from dangerous UV rays, sunscreen also improves the condition of our skin. It reduces red facial veins, brown spots, blotchiness, and other skin discolorations. It also keeps the development of dry and wrinkled skin at bay, as well as halt the onset of premature aging skin.
Keep in mind that whether or not you see a sunburn, your skin may already be damaged by constant sun exposure that happens over time. This is why it’s important to make a habit of wearing sunscreen every day. On that note, always check the Sun Protection Factor or SPF of your sunscreen. The higher the number of your SPF, the better it protects you from the burning rays of the sun. You should aim for an SPF of at least 30 or anything higher. Sunscreens are safe for children over 6 months as well, so don’t think that only adults are at risk of developing skin damage.
With that said, how should sunscreens be applied? Maximize your sun protection by making sure you are using your sunscreen properly. If you’re planning to go outdoors for more than 30 minutes, apply your chosen product at least 20 to 30 minutes before heading out. Then, for every 2 hours after, reapply your sunscreen. Don’t think that you’re safe just because your product labels itself as all-day protection—it’s still wise to reapply, especially if you sweat more heavily, or if you’re going for a stroll on the beach and are planning to get wet.
Apply a generous layer on your skin. Don’t skimp! It’s important to cover all areas that are exposed, and that includes the often neglected areas of the ears and the backs of your hands. Don’t rub too hard, either—simply smooth on the product onto your skin. If you are wearing makeup, don’t be overconfident about your level of sun protection. You should still apply sunscreen under your makeup before you head out. Of course, sunscreen can only do so much. If you can help it, don’t go outdoors during the most intense times of the day, especially during noontime. Wear protective clothing such as long sleeves, slacks, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses that are coated with ultraviolet protection. Finally, bring an umbrella!
It’s always best to be prudent when it comes to sun protection. We willingly buy overpriced skin care products day after day, but why is it that we neglect the most basic kind of skin protection at its core? Sunscreen doesn’t really cost too much compared to the adverse effects that can happen if we do not use it. Remember that sun damage happens over a prolonged time of constant sun exposure as well, so even if you might not see any skin damage right now, that doesn’t mean your skin isn’t already suffering silently from within. Will we wait until the damage manifests itself before we make a healthy habit of applying sunscreen daily? Go on ahead and get yourself some sunscreen now!