You know that saying “Beauty is only skin deep”, well that may have gone from a saying to a fact with all the damage we are doing beneath our skin to get that “beautiful” bronze color.
Let’s start off with what an SPF rating actually means:
SPF actually stands for Sun Protection Factor. This factor is a measure of how much Ultraviolet, or UV, radiation it takes to burn your skin when it’s unprotected compared to how much it takes to burn it when it’s slathered in sunscreen. The higher the SPF value of your sunscreen, the more protection it offers from sunburn.
The downside is many people believe the rating correlates with the amount of time they can be out in the sun without reapplying. Unfortunately. that common misconception leads a lot of people to hurtful burns.
Think because you rarely burn you don’t need sunscreen?
You are leaving yourself very unprotected. SPF measures UV protection but only for UVB. There are two types of UV light – UVA and UVB- sunscreen measures the amount of UVB absorption into your skin it does not measure the UVA. It’s true UVB is the light that causes sunburns and immediate damage to your skin but UVA light is what will do more long term extensive damage under neath the skin. UVA light will increase your changes of getting skin cancer, cause more sun spots, and cause premature aging of the skin.
Things to think about:
Although you are reading this learning about what SPF protection really means you would be surprised how much sunscreen has to be used to achieve the SPF on the bottle. Imagine your hand filled high with shaving cream, that is the amount of sunscreen you must use to get the SPF that the product claims to achieve. Some sunscreens will protect you from both but not all of them. With the new research coming out about UVA light people are assuming sunscreens companies are rating their SPF including UVA light when realistically they aren’t. On that same note, no sunscreen is
water proof” only “water resistant”. The FDA has passed new regulations making it so sunscreen companies can only say water resistant on the label. The requirements to a sunscreen being labeled “water resistant” are that the are still effective in the water or while sweating for 40 or 80 minutes. That’s a pretty big gap if you ask me and they don’t have to tell you whether the sunscreen passed the 40 or the 80 minute testing to get the ‘water resistant’ label, they just have to pass one.
How To Protect Yourself From UVA and UVB:
It was thought that UVB light was the most damaging to the human skin but now we are learning UVA is just as damaging. UVA light can get through windows, certain glass, and certain plastic that UVB light can not penetrate. UVA light will not cause you to have a sunburn so you won’t see an immediate effects of the damage but they are causing damage all the time.
1. Use BROAD SPECTRUM sunscreen. These are clearly labeled at the store and are the only type of sunblock that will protect you from both forms of light. Check for certain ingredients,the latest sunscreens boast new chemicals, like Mexoryl, which has proven to be one of the most effective UVA-blockers out there.
2. Make sure you are always protecting yourself! If UVA rays can get through your windows I guarantee they can get through certain types of clothing. If you know you are going to be working outside all day do yourself a favor and put it under your clothing as well.
3. Invest in SPF make-up that protects against both UVA/UVB light. Your face is constantly exposed, whether your in your car, sitting near a window at work, or walking to your mailbox. Your face is the last place you want to see premature aging so take care of it and protect it 24-7.
4. Sunscreen is only effective if it is fully absorbed into you skin. This means you should be applying 15 to 20 minutes before you are exposing yourself to sun. Then reapplying if you get wet, sweat a lot, or it’s been longer then 150 minutes.
5. Know your skin and how to protect it against further damage, Sunscreen suggests you reapply every 150 minutes. However, if you are more prone to skin cancer in your family or have sensitive skin make sure you are re applying much sooner then every 150 minutes!
6. This is the simplest way to protect your skin. Make sure you are fully covered with sunscreen. The most common missed areas are ears, feet, the back of your neck. These are all places that are easily to forget and seem unimportant when applying. Wrong, all areas covered in skin are important areas that need to be covered with broad spectrum sunscreen.
Deep Breaths!! Don’t Freak Out!!
I know this all seems scary especially for those of us who have been worshiping the sun for years thinking we were protecting ourselves because we had sunscreen on and it kept us protected from UVB light. Listen, although we can’t reverse all the damage we have done there are some ways to reverse some of the damage. Also, now that we know we can take the necessary steps to protect ourselves from any future damage. This does not mean you are going to get skin cancer, this does not mean you are going to age faster. All this is, is a way to inform you of the damage you could be causing yourself. I can tell you from personal experience I used to lather myself in oil and lay out by a pool for hours, OUCH! Don’t be too harsh on yourself after reading this please.
Fun Fact: Those of you out there who love the sun as much as I do should know you CAN and WILL get a tan through sunscreen. Although tanned skinned means damaged skin I know that there are some people out there who will never stop loving the sun. Most likely myself included but I do wear sunscreen even when I have those days I just can’t help myself from laying out. It’s very true the sun has Vitamin D which gives you a euphoric feeling so I will not sit here and tell you never to go out into the sun because it is essential to be happy in life 🙂 I also know there are tanorexic’s out there who truly feel the NEED to be tan and unfortunately today’s society doesn’t help much with that aspect of things. Just do me a favor whether you are out in the sun or laying in a bed wear sunscreen I promise you will regret it when you get older if you don’t. Yes, even in a tanning bed.