The real secret to keeping your skin youthful and healthy is sunscreen! Although this is something so common that we can buy at almost any convenience store, often people do not use it as frequently as they should. Living in Southern California has its perks, especially the weather; sunshine occurs nearly every day of the year. We should all keep in mind that although we love to be outdoors, overexposure to harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause major damage to our skin. It can cause premature aging of the skin, freckles or sun spots, wrinkling, skin cancer, in addition to more immediate issues such as sunburn or blistering.
There are several types of rays emitted by the sun, all of which require caution. The types of ultraviolet (UV) rays are:
- UVA rays which are most important because they are the most we are exposed to throughout the day and causes premature aging of our skin. This type of ray is also a benefactor for photosensitivity reactions and can be a major contributor to skin cancer.
- UVB rays are most present from late morning to early afternoon and is responsible for most sunburns. UVB is also a contributor to skin cancer development.
- UVC rays are the least of our worries because these rays are naturally filtered by our ozone layer and do not reach the earth’s surface.
Living in Southern California we are closer to the equator than other places which means that we are exposed to higher levels of ultraviolet radiation. Other ways that increase our exposure are factors such as weather, higher elevation, reflection even from snow and water. Ways you can still enjoy the sun safely are simple things such as covering up any exposed skin like wearing hats, sunglasses, staying in the shade or under umbrellas, and especially using sunscreen.
How often should I apply sunblock? For best results always apply sunscreen at least thirty minutes before sun exposure. This helps ensure that the sunscreen has absorbed into your skin and will be less likely to wash of when you sweat. Always remember to reapply your sunscreen after things like swimming or a lot of exercise, especially if you work outdoors. Don’t forget your protective clothing like hats and sunglasses.
There are so many different types of sunscreens available and here are some tips for shopping and application:
- Make sure to shake the bottle well to mix any ingredients that may have separated or settled.
- Another option is to use spray-on or stick sunscreen
- Always make sure to apply enough sunscreen, about an ounce or small handful should be enough to cover your whole body.
- Be careful when applying sunscreen around your eyes.
- Don’t forget about all parts of your exposed skin including your ears and neck, your back and shoulders and the back of your knees and legs.
- Some things to look for in a quality sunscreen to protect yourself from harmful UV rays are to choose ones with at least 15 SPF or higher.
- Find waterproof brands if you are going to be sweating a lot or swimming.
- For sensitive skin buy a sunscreen that doesn’t contain para-amino benzoic acid or ask for sample sunscreens to find what best fits your skin as many sunscreens are made with different ingredients.
- I have found that water-based sunscreens work best for me as my skin is oily and acne prone. When you do find a sunscreen that best fits your skins needs, like any product, be sure to be aware of expiration dates as some ingredients will degrade and lose effectiveness over time.
Stay protected from the sun and have some fun!
The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.