So it’s June, which means it’s FINALLY summer. Is it just me, or has this been the shortest/longest season getting from winter to summer? Seriously though, with the onset of warmer weather, there’s something important we need to discuss. Sunscreen. Don’t roll your eyes at me, seriously. SPF should be part of your daily regimen for all four seasons, but even more vital during the hot summer months when the sun is hotter and more dangerous.
Little known fact — My dad’s a redhead. My mom has an olive complexion. Guess who’s skin i got? Ok well, both — i get burned in the sun, which eventually develops into a tan. But i feel like my dad’s redheaded-ness gave me a threshold to my ability to develop that golden tan, which is why i just opt for sunscreen and self-tanner. I also am a workaholic, so my face doesn’t see much sun, and this is what i attribute my youthful look to (I’m 38, and i don’t think i look it). I also now take better care of my skin than i ever did in my youth (can we all agree that at one point we’ve all used cetaphil, or neutrogena, and those toning wipes?)… But don’t you wish someone would just have shaken you in your early teens when you’d lay out in the sun with tanning oil slathered all over you? UGH. That’s one thing Stella’s never going to do.
Ok, lets talk about what happens in your skin when you tan. I found this great explanation on self.com:
When your skin cells are threatened by the UV rays coming at them from the sun, they kick into protection mode, distributing darker pigment cells (melanocytes) to those cells on the surface. The pigment blocks UV radiation from hitting cells’ most valuable parts. “What the cells do with this pigment they received as a gift is pile it all on top of the cell’s nucleus, like an umbrella,” Sekulic explains. When pigment piles up, your skin looks tanner. The more threatened your skin is, the more it works to form pigment shields. That’s why you get darker the longer you stay out.
…That base tan you rely on to prevent burning is at best the equivalent of putting on SPF 3 sunscreen, according to the CDC. Most derms recommend that you wear at least SPF 30 to protect yourself from sun damage. That includes both DNA mutations that could lead to skin cancer, and the weakening of connective fibers, which leads to wrinkles, sagging, and sunspots.
So we’ve established we need to protect our skin from the sun, regardless of the colour of our skin — all skin types are susceptible to the damage of UVA and UVB. Wait, what? 2 kinds? There’s actually UVC as well — but we’re really mainly concerned about A and B. UVA is what’s used in tanning beds, plays a major part in skin aging and wrinkling, and can go thru clouds and glass. GLASS. UVB is what’s linked to skin cancer, can burn your skin in 15 minutes or less, and damages your skin’s DNA. So really, you’re not safe without SPF whether you’re inside or out. This is why you should wear sunscreen every day whether you’re inside, or outside; whether it’s summer or winter.
How do you pick a sunscreen that’s effective enough to prevent all this nasty sun damage? Find something that’s marked as broad spectrum, which means it’s effective to protect you from UVA and UVB rays; and ideally find something that’s zinc-oxide based instead of synthetic chemicals (like oxybenzone, octisalate etc). But honestly, any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen, so if you don’t have any better quality sunscreen, coppertone spf 30 will do the trick until you can get your hands on some.
It’s also worth noting that sunscreen application isn’t a once-and-done kind of thing, you need to reapply once every 2 hours, or more frequently if you’re swimming and sweating. If you’ve got a full face of makeup on, it’s worth investing in a face spray with spf so you can stash it in your purse and spray it every few hours.
The last thing to know about sunscreen: The difference between spf grades. SPF 15 blocks 93% of all UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97%, and SPF 50 blocks 98%. The 1% difference is minimal, but it’s important to also know that SPF 30 means it’ll take 30 times longer to burn than without SPF. There’s a lot more to this answer than I’m equipped to answer, so for full details a simple google search will give you a ton of information on how to decode SPF.
The most important take-away from this post though: Wear sunscreen and reapply every 2 hours. When we put sunscreen on, we feel a false sense of securuity, and don’t necessarily seek shade, put a sunhat on, cover up, etc — and we tend to get more sun exposure than if we didn’t have sunscreen on, which totally defeats the purpose. Reapply, reapply, reapply.
REAPPLY THAT SUNSCREEN.