Most people know that on a sunny day it is important to wear sunscreen. It helps avoid sunburn and damage to the skin. However, they’re probably not aware that sunscreen is not only for the summer months, but should be used all year round. With other skin care regimes you may be forgiven for skipping or not paying attention. However when it comes to sunscreen, it is not an option, it is a must. Below we look at its importance and the consequences of not using it.
One of the most common causes of skin cancer and premature aging is the sun. The harmful UVA and UVB rays penetrate deep into the skin’s dermis and damage connective tissues and cells. This accelerates the breakdown of collagen, a protein which helps keep skin soft and supple. Skin will appear to have more wrinkles and sag. However, by applying sunscreen on a regular basis, it creates a barrier and protects the skin.
How long or how often should I wear sunscreen?
The simple answer is everyday! Even on cloudy days. Even though the sun may not be visible, the UV rays are still present and damage the skin. But in terms of how often should you apply? Well, contrary to popular belief, the sunscreen on your skin doesn’t last all day. General rule, you should be applying every 2 hours. Moreover, if you are out in the sun for long durations, make sure to apply more generously and more frequently. If you are on a beach make sure to get a sunscreen that is water resistant. When purchasing, make sure to choose one that has ‘broad-spectrum’ as these offer protection against both UVA and UVB. what’s the difference you ask… UVA causes skin ageing while UVB is responsible for sunburns.
Does my sunscreen have a best before date?
Well, there are varying opinions on this. Firstly, if your sunscreen has an expiration date then it makes sense to use it before it expires. While for products that don’t have a date, most dermatologists agree that a sunscreen will retain its original strength for at least a couple of years. Anything longer than that must not be worn and should be thrown away.
Ways to help yourself
Go for products that have sunscreen protection when purchasing say moisturisers or eye creams. However, make sure to avoid sunscreens with toxic ingredients. These will really damage your skin and create other skin conditions. One of my favourite lotions is the Vitamin C Glow-Protect Lotion SPF30 from The Body Shop. Not only does it offer a ‘broad-spectrum’, it also has vitamin C which brightens my complexion and moisturises the skin nicely.
On sunny days, make sure you wear a hat and sunglasses. Avoid tanning beds. Trust me you don’t want to exchange an orange skin tone for wrinkles, or even worse skin cancer. But mostly importantly don’t over expose yourself to the sun.
A common reason why some avoid using sunscreen is that some creams tends to be really heavy or leave a white coat on the skin. This is understandable, as it makes the skin look ‘unnatural’ and putting foundation on top can be difficult. However, the good news is that there are a wide variety of sunscreen products that range from creams, sprays to serums. These can be light in texture and shade. Based on your skin type you can choose an appropriate one to suit your particular look or need.
As much as it is important to wear sunscreen you also need vitamin D. This can be provided by being out in the sun. So how do you balance this? Well, you don’t need to be out in the sun for hours on end to get your vitamin D. 15 to 20 minutes is more than enough. If on the other hand you are concerned about your vitamin D intake, then there’s always an option where you can take vitamin D supplements. Furthermore, make sure you drink natural orange juice and eat lots of dairy products.
Sunscreen works for anti ageing
Unfortunately ageing is a natural part of life that we all have to go through. However, we do have control over how we age and how fast. Most obviously, it is important to have a balanced diet and reduce stress. These 2 alone will do wonders to our overall skin complexion and health. But in terms of the visible signs of ageing such as wrinkles, fine lines and dark spots… moisturising the skin and using sunscreen are the 2 most effective ways to combat these. There are tons of research done on this. In particular, women who tend to age gracefully seem to have one thing in common, they incorporate sunscreen into their skincare regime.