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Why Sunscreen is Important for Your Skincare?

Introduction

summer sunscreen skincare

Sunscreen is important to protect your delicate skin from the sun. If this is how you view sunscreen, chances are you only apply it when going out on a sunny day. After all, who needs sunscreen on outcast, rainy days, right? Wrong! The reason why sunscreen is important goes beyond protecting you from direct exposure to the sun. The reality is that harmful, ultraviolet rays are present all the time no matter the weather. 

But how about on overcast days? Don’t the clouds block the rays?

Sadly, no. Only visible rays are sun rays blocked, but UV rays go right through the clouds and on to your skin. Wearing sunscreen is more important than you imagined! Read on to learn all about why sunscreen is important for your skin.

Why sunscreen is important 

It is estimated that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by 70, and according to studies, having five or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma. These figures may be frightening, but the good news is wearing sunscreen with a high SPF can protect you against sunburn. So that’s the first, and probably the most convincing reason why you should wear sunscreen-it lowers your cancer risk.

Here are other reasons why sunscreen is important:

  • It can prevent premature aging

Exposure to the sun’s UV rays causes aging to the skin, which is characterized by discoloration, wrinkles, and a leathery appearance. According to a new study, regularly using sunscreen can prevent the loss of elasticity that is caused by the sun’s UV rays. The study was conducted on more than 900 participants and lasted for four years.  At the end of the study, researchers found that those who used sunscreen daily were 24% less likely to show signs of aging. 

  • It helps maintain an even skin tone

Not only can sunscreen protect your skin from aging, but it can even reverse signs of aging like hyper-pigmentation. A study conducted by the Johnson & Johnson Skin Research Center showed that daily applying a moisturizer with SPF 30 could improve sunspots by 52% and skin clarity by 41% after a year of use. 

 Why is sunscreen important for your skincare

Sunscreen should always be part of your skincare routine for many reasons. Not only does wearing sunscreen prevent premature aging and help maintain an even skin tone, but it also offers additional benefits, including:

  • Lowered cancer risk
  • Sunburn protection
  • Tanning protection
  • Protection from harmful UV rays

All skin types, including darker skin tones, need sunscreen. One common misconception is that dark skin tones that have a higher quantity of melanin do not burn easily. Although this is true, it doesn’t mean that dark skin cannot be damaged by the sun, causing issues like hyper-pigmentation. Regular use of sunscreen can prevent freckles and dark splotches in dark skin tones. 

How does sunscreen work? 

Now that we are convinced of the importance of wearing sunscreen, the question is- how does it work? Before we get into how sunscreen works, we must understand the two types of rays that can damage the skin:

  • UVA rays– the shortest wavelength of UV rays can cause darkening of the skin, aging, and wrinkles.
  • UVB rays– are the rays that are responsible for causing skin cancer.

Although different types of sunscreens offer protection from these rays, all have two things in common- an active ingredient and the emulsion.

The active ingredient is what absorbs or reflects UV rays. UV absorbents are usually chemicals that can absorb UV radiation and convert it into heat. This is why you may notice your skin feeling al little bit warm whenever you wear sunscreen. These chemicals absorb either the UVB or UVA part of the spectrum that causes sunburn, thereby protecting your skin. Some sunscreens are categorized as “broad spectrum” because they absorb both the UVA and UVB portion of the spectrum. UV absorbents are like sponges that absorb the harmful rays. 

UV reflectors, on the other hand, are like mirrors that reflect or bounce UV back off the skin. These are usually made up of oxides, including zinc oxide and titanium oxide. 

All sunscreens also have an emulsion ingredient, which can either be a cream, oil, or gel that carries the active ingredients. The emulsion ingredients are also necessary to increase shelf life, add scent, and aid in binding with the skin.

Importance of sunscreen during the summer months?

sunscreen skincare

Simply put- wearing sunscreen during summer months is a crucial way to fight overexposure to the sun. Despite the many benefits of the sun, overexposure can lead to premature aging, sunburn, wrinkles, and even skin cancer. 

During the summer months, both the UVA and UVB rays are present, so it is important to look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that can protect you from both these rays. Another important tip is to re-apply sunscreen after two hours and use other protection such as sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats. 

Where to apply sunscreen

You may think that using sunscreen on your face, arms, and legs is enough, but there are other important areas that you may neglect. Here are five not so obvious places you should apply sunscreen:

  • Your neck

Your neck is one of the most neglected areas when it comes to applying sunscreen. Make sure you use a generous amount past your chin and even at the back of your neck.

  • Your ears

Like any other part of your face, your ears can get sunburned easily, so remember to apply sunscreen there too. You can use a sunscreen setting spray if you are worried about the greasiness of your sunscreen. 

  • Your feet

If you are wearing open sandals or slippers, the tops of your feet are directly exposed to the sun’s rays. You’ll want to give them a quick slather of sunscreen, covering your toes too.

  • Your Lips

To keep your lips protected, you should always use a lip balm that is formulated with broad-spectrum SPF. Without this protection, your lips will become dry, rough, and even painful.

  • Your Scalp

A powder sunscreen is perfect for protecting your scalp, especially if you are wearing a parted hairstyle. Another option is to keep your hair in a bun or ponytail or, better yet, cover it with a hat or cap.

Considering all the areas you ought to apply sunscreen, you may wonder just how much sunscreen will you need? Ideally, adults need about 1 ounce (a shot glass) to cover the whole body. Another important thing to remember is that sunscreen should be applied every two hours or after swimming or sweating. 

What is waterproof sunscreen?

Waterproof sunscreen is sunscreens that have passed the test to prove that they can retain their claimed SPF when swimming or sweating. Usually, labels state how long the sunscreen can be water-resistant (usually 40 or 80 minutes).

For a sunscreen to be water-resistant, ingredients need to be added, such as dimethicone, waxes, or oils. These ingredients are combined to ensure that the lotion sticks to the skin when submerged in water without interfering with the SPF levels. The water-resistant SPF value is then determined to resist a 40 or 80 minute period of water regimen. The test regimen a waterproof sunscreen needs to pass is as follows:

  • Application of sunscreen 
  • 80 minutes of water immersion done outdoors in a circulating whirlpool (at four 20 minute intervals and 15-minute rest intervals) without towel drying
  • After the immersion, the skin is air-dried without toweling and exposed to UV rays
  • 16-24 hours later, the subjects reevaluated for any sunburns

Depending on the results, the sunscreen is labeled accordingly. According to FDA guidelines, manufacturers are no longer allowed to claim that their sunscreens are “waterproof” or “sweatproof.”  Instead, you will see labels like SPF 50, Water-resistant (80 minutes). 

What does SPF mean?

SPF stands of Sun Protection Factor and is the measure used to determine how much UVB light reaches your skin. The higher the number, the less UV light passes. For example, a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 means that one-thirtieth or 3.3 % of UV reaches your skin, and 96.7% of UV is filtered.  Wearing an SPF 30 sunscreen would slow the rate of sunburn by thirty times longer. So if you would normally get burned within 10 minutes, with an SPF30 sunscreen, it would take 300 minutes for you to burn.

What does a broad spectrum mean?

The term “broad spectrum” describes sunscreen that can protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Unfortunately, when it comes to choosing the best sunscreen, very few looks for this feature. In one study, only 39 percent of consumers said that broad-spectrum protection influenced their purchasing decisions.  The sad truth is, not many understand how important this factor should be. 

Contrary to what you may think, both UVA and UVB rays can damage your skin’s DNA leading to skin cancer. UVA rays make up 95% of the radiation that reaches the surface and is present throughout the day with equal intensity. Not even clouds, glass or fog, can stop these rays. Although the UVA rays are not the main cause of sunburn, they can cause premature aging, wrinkles, and other skin issues because they penetrate deeper into the skin.

UVB Rays, on the other hand, are known as the harmful rays that cause sunburn. Most sunscreens protect against this type of rays but not against UVA rays.

So why is broad-spectrum sunscreen so important? Well, you need to look for a label that says ‘broad spectrum’ because this is the only way you can ensure that you are getting protection from both UVA and UVB rays. As mentioned, the SPF rating only focuses on the UVB rays and does not say anything about UVA protection. This is why you need a sunscreen that has an SPF higher than 15 and says “broad spectrum’ on the label. 

Benefits of sunscreen for acne

If you are battling outbreaks of acne, the last thing you want to do is make matters worse. It’s no wonder many who have acne issues stay away from sunscreen, but this doesn’t have to be the case. The fact remains-exposing your skin to the sun will only cause more flare-ups. Here are just a few of the benefits of sunscreen for acne:

  • Reduced flare-ups

The more your skin is exposed to the sun’s harmful rays, the higher the chances you will get flare-ups. Flare-ups can be triggered by burnt, irritated, or damaged skin, which is often caused by sun exposure. Regularly using sunscreen can prevent skin damage by maintaining the natural elastin and collagen in your skin.

  • Reduced scarring

Sun exposure often causes dark spots, which makes acne scars more noticeable. Using and re-applying the right sunscreen can reduce the visibility of acne scars and even lighten them.

  • Moisturized skin

We all know how important it is to keep the skin moisturized when it comes to preventing acne breakouts. Wearing sunscreen helps the skin retain moisture, which in turn protects it from sun damage. 

Is there sunscreen for sensitive faces?

Yes, there is! Some sunscreens are formulated, especially for those who have sensitive skin. If you have sensitive skin, you need to know the two types of sunscreen- mineral and synthetic.

Mineral sunscreens or physical sunscreens can be identified by the active ingredients of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These two ingredients are absorbed by the deep layers of the skin where they deflect the sun’s harmful rays. Dermatologists recommend this type of sunscreen for those with sensitive skin. 

Synthetic sunscreens or chemical sunscreens convert UV rays into heat before they cause damage to the skin. Ingredients of synthetic sunscreens include oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, and avobenzone. Although synthetic sunscreens are widely used, they are not ideal for sensitive skin.

Another important factor to consider for sensitive skin is fragrance-free sunscreen. Fragrances are often used to reduce the strong smell of the active ingredients in sunscreens, but these fragrances may cause a skin reaction. 

The bottom line- those with sensitive skin should look for a mineral sunscreen with a high SPF, and little or no fragrance added. 

Why it is so important to always wear sunscreen even after the summer ends

Many feel that they don’t’ need to wear sunscreen because they can’t feel the sun burning their skin. But just because you can’t feel UV rays doesn’t mean they aren’t there! Even during winter months, when it is cold and dark, the sun’s harmful rays are equally dangerous. 

According to the WHO, 80% of UV radiation is reflected off the snow, which means you still need protection to shield your skin. Also, UV rays can penetrate the clouds and even cause sunburn, no matter how cold or gloomy the weather may seem. What many call “windburn” that includes redness and chapping is a result of UV exposure, not wind!

Wearing sunscreen all year round is the only way to protect your skin and provide moisture, which can keep you safe no matter the weather. 

Conclusion 

The best sunscreen is one that you use all year round. You don’t have to wait until summer to restock on your sunscreen- it should be part of your daily skincare. Contrary to popular belief, the sun’s rays continue to be dangerous even during winter months, making wearing sunscreen even more important. Whether you have acne or sensitive skin, the right sunscreen can do wonders in preventing flare-ups and reducing dark spots. When choosing your sunscreen, remember to look for “broad spectrum” sunscreen with a high SPF and look out for the “water-resistant” label if you plan to get wet. 

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