If you’re wondering if Summer is here then you didn’t go outside today. It was hot and the sun was out in all its glory. And I was driving around for hours in the sun but I was protected, I had on both a physical and chemical sun screen.
This is the time of year everyone loves. The days are longer, its warmer, you get to shed those heavy winter clothing and bring out the summer gear. the un is out and there are lots of outdoor activity to participate in from picnic, hours at the pool, lazing on beach chairs etc. But this is the time of year that you have to remember to protect your skin with sun protection, clothing, umbrella, or anything that will shield you from direct sun rays.
The question is still being asked, “To wear or not to wear sunscreen” And this blog I’m going to give an Esthetics answer on sunscreen, when to apply it, how much and what type is best for your many outdoor activity.
Why use Sun protection?
(1) The ozone layer is depleting and your body needs protection from harmful
(2) Skin cancer rate is still rising and sunscreen can help to decrease the
development of skin cancer.
(3) Shielding your skin from sun rays will prevent brown spots aka age spots
and discoloration from appearing all over our body.
(4) It also help to reduce the appearance of facial red veins and blotchiness.
(5) It will slow down wrinkles and premature aging skin.
But is sun screen our only option? No, if you have allergic reactions to ingredients or want added protection from sun’s harmful rays, try doing the following:
(1) Wear long sleeved shirts and long pants. They should be tightly woven
and dark colors like blue, red, yellow etc. Look for bright colored cover
ups. Avoid fabric like eyelet or where light can pass through, cause UV
rays can pass through to your skin.
(2) Wear broad brimmed hat. It will cover up your neck, ears, scalp and face.
Look for a large brimmed hat with 3 to 4 inches that extend around to
protect your face. Baseball caps, sun visors only shade some parts of the
face but not the neck, lower face or ears.
(3) Wear UV blocking sun glasses or look for wrap around or even large
shades that will protect the delicate eye area. Sun glasses can also help
reduce the risk of cataracts.
(4) Look for shaded spots. But be aware that the sunlight can still bounce off
reflective surfaces and get to you underneath a tree, umbrella or tent.
Now lets talk about sun screen. The goal of sun screen is to block ultraviolet light, those harmful rays from the sun. UV light causes skin cancer and premature aging skin. But we don’t want to block all the sunshine. No, I’m not contradicting myself. Direct sun is good for us to boost vitamin D and to improve our mood. But we only need 20 minutes each day of direct sun then apply sunscreen or stay indoors. More than 20 minutes of direct sunlight and our immune system suffers.
There are two types of sunscreen: Physical sunscreen and Chemical sunscreen. I use both when I know I’m going to be out most of the day. Especially during the day when the sun is hottest and strongest between 10am and 3pm.
What is physical sunscreen?
I like this one the most. It lasts much longer because they sit on top of the surface of the skin and physically block the UV rays. They are also called sunblock, mineral sunscreen or physical blocker. The main active ingredients are Zinc Oxide or Titanium Oxide. But be aware of Titanium Oxide, some people have problems with it clogging there pores. Physical sunscreen work by physically blocking and scattering ultraviolet radiation. They offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Its good for skin that is sensitvie. It doesn’t cause allergies or irritation because they don’t get into the absorbed into the skin. the formulation is quite thick and tends to leave a white cast on the skin. This is my only complaint with physical sunscreen. It is very hard to blend into darker skin and most times leaves our skin looking ashy. And I dislike ashy. I find it best to rub it vigorously between my palms until it is warm and smooth then I pat it on my face. Never rub it like you will apply your moisturizer. It just wouldn’t work. You need to apply about a teaspoon per area and you can be ready for a day in the sun.
What is Chemical Sunscreen?
As its name suggest, it contains synthetic chemical substances that absorbs the UV rays. They are colorless, odorless and feel lighter on your skin. There main active ingredients are: Aminobenzoic acid aka PABA, Oxybenzone, Avobenzone. The chemical sunscreen protects the skin at a cellular level and must interact with skin cells to be effective. Chemical sunscreen acts as a sponge; it absorbs into the skin while it converts the sun rays into less damaging forms of radiation. In order for it to be effective, you need to rub or apply it on the body and wait 20 minutes before sun exposure. They are resistant to sweat and water; therefore they are best for swimming, sweaty sports or a day at the beach or pool. Like physical sunscreen, its an effective broad band protection from both UVA and UVB. I like the chemical sunscreen for its ease in application on darker skin, it goes on clear and does not take a lot of elbow grease to apply. But when I use it, I either apply a physical sunscreen first or mix both chemical and physical sunscreen together.
Things to know:
(1) There is no such thing as a healthy tan. A tan is the skin’s response to the
sun’s damaging rays.
(2) Avoid or stay away from tanning parlors. There UV rays are much more
damaging and more intense than the natural sunlight. These tanning
devices can burn the epidermis and cause premature aging, thickening
of the epidermis, brown spots, dilated capillaries and increase the risk of skin cancer.
So to answer my earlier question, “To wear or not to wear sunscreen?” The answer is Yes. Regardless of your age, gender or race, never leave home without sun protection on a sunny day. And this is not only in the winter but all year round. If you’re still in doubt whether to wear sunscreen or you don’t know which one to use, then remember this quote from Dr. Oz, “Think white (zinc oxide), you’ll get it right.”
Written by Freida Francis
Esthetican at Blue Heron Wellness.