We all know that we should really wear sunscreen every day, but how many of us actually do?
Our skin is our largest organ and we put it through a lot from day to day. Now that it’s summer, sun protection is even more important as we all start spending more time outside under the beautiful summer sun.
We actually need to be wearing sunscreen year-round because the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation are damaging at any time - even on overcast, cloudy days when you might assume you’re safe from the sun, 80% of the sun’s UV rays can still penetrate your skin and cause damage! You should also be extra careful around snow, sand, water, and anything else that reflects the sun’s rays.
Sunscreen helps prevent the sun’s UV rays from penetrating your skin and damaging your cells. By wearing sunscreen daily, you’ll not only prevent premature wrinkles and painful sunburns, you’ll decrease your risk of skin cancer.
Not all sunscreens are created equal, so what should you look for in a sunscreen?
Broad-Spectrum - Broad-spectrum means that this sunscreen protects you from both UVA and UVB rays, the two types of UV rays that cause damage. If a sunscreen isn’t labelled as broad-spectrum, it only protects from UVB rays and you’re still unprotected from UVA rays. UVA rays cause lasting skin damage, skin aging (like wrinkles, leathering, and sagging), and can lead to skin cancer. UVB rays cause sunburns, skin damage, and can lead to skin cancer. Trust me, you want to avoid both.
SPF30 or higher - SPF is a measurement of the ability of sunscreen to prevent UVB rays from causing damage, based on how many UVB rays are blocked. SPF30 sunscreens block 97% of UV rays, anything higher might sound more powerful but the difference isn’t significant and higher SPFs don’t last any longer. SPF30 is a safe bet!
Mineral - Mineral sunscreens, which protect from the sun using minerals such as zinc, are superior to chemical sunscreens, which protect from the sun using chemical ingredients such as oxybenzone. Problems with chemical sunscreen ingredients include causing hormonal imbalances, the destruction of ocean reefs, and not even being active until about 20 minutes after absorption. It’s better to go with a mineral sunscreen that’s effective as soon as it’s applied and has far less negative effects on your health and the environment. Mineral sunscreens are also less likely to irritate sensitive skin, won’t worsen brown spots, don’t clog pores, and last longer under direct UV light.
Sunscreen up and go enjoy the beautiful outdoors this summer! I hope you now feel more confident about your knowledge of how and why sunscreen protects you, so you can hike, swim, and spend time outside safely.