The Truth About Your Skin and SPF

The Truth About Your Skin and SPF

Does this sound like you?

In the summer when it’s hot and sunny, you are a person who is diligent with your sunscreen. If you are really disciplined, maybe you even put on sunscreen when it’s just a little overcast.

But how often do you really need to wear SPF?

The answer really is every day (we promise), and here’s why:

Sunscreen protects us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, which are classified as UVA and UVB rays. While UVB rays are responsible for sunburn and are the easiest effects of sun damage to feel, UVA rays penetrate our skin’s much deeper layers and can cause long-term damage. These rays are the cause of wrinkling, premature aging and other awful skin damage. Both types of ultraviolet rays can cause skin cancer however, and so it is of the utmost importance to protect yourself.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer before the age of 70. Using sunscreen daily and incorporating other sun health habits can drastically decrease your risk of getting skin cancer.

It is apparent that sunscreen is important during the summer months when we are outdoors the most and wearing less clothing like tank tops, shorts and bathing suits. It is imperative, however, to continue the use of daily sunscreen long after BBQ season is over. UVA and UVB rays are just as harmful during fall and winter months, regardless of how chilly it may be outside.

In addition to posing risks while you are outside, UVA rays can also penetrate window glass. All that time spent driving in your car or sitting at your office desk near a window could be times that you are unknowingly accumulating dangerous skin damage. Protection every day and all day is the key to keeping your skin healthy and beautiful.

Here are some of the most common questions we encounter when it comes to sun safety:

Is there such thing as a “base tan”?

The answer is resoundingly “no!” The idea of a base tan helping to prevent risk of burning later is a total myth and has no science to back that claim. Tanning is your body’s defense mechanism against UV exposure when it has been under the sun for too long. If you see tanning, it means sun damage, period! You can’t fight damage with damage, so no more purposeful tanning!

What does an SPF number rating mean?

The number assigned to a specific level of SPF is the number of minutes you are protected after the point you would usually begin to burn. For example, if you typically start to burn after 10 minutes of unprotected sun exposure, an SPF of 15 would protect you for up to 150 minutes.  Everyone person’s burning point differs, so it is important to pay attention to your skin while you are out, and you must reapply!

It’s snowing outside. Surely, I don’t need sunscreen, right?

Wrong! Even on cold snowy days you must remember to wear your SPF.  The reflective properties of snow magnify the sun’s rays. Your risk for sun damage on snowy days is more intense, so be vigilant.

How Do I know What Level of SPF is Right for Me?

Currently. SPF 30 is the most common level for most people and skin types. While no sunscreen can block all UVB rays, the following is generally recognized as sound: SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. Many dermatologists will say that after SPF 50, higher ratings are just gimmicks and packed with chemicals that are not good for you. Consistent application of SPF 30 throughout the duration of your sun exposure should be perfectly acceptable for most people.

If you are ever in doubt about the proper level of correct sun protection, ask your trusted physician or dermatologist for help in the right direction. Good habits now equal happy and healthy skin in the future!