Wear Sunscreen – Sunscreen is the ultimate anti-aging cream
Why wear it? To avoid wrinkles, fine lines, age spots and skin cancer!
Sun screens which block UV-radiation can help delay or prevent these unfortunate symptoms of sun damage.
Your skin protects your organs from sunburn by producing melanin (the darkening pigment you see as a tan or freckle). Unfortunately, too much UV-radiation from the sun can damage your skin cells and cause cancer. Sun exposure can also cause your skin to become thinner, and can break down collagen fibers in your skin. Eventually, your skin becomes wrinkled.
How to slow the aging process
Sunblock applied to the skin protects it from UV radiation, including UVA (290-320 nanometer wavelength) and UVB (320-400 nanometer wavelength).
According to a recent NY Times article (June 19, 2006), UVB radiation causes surface damage including sunburn and skin cancer. UVA radiation penetrates deeper, causing wrinkling and also cancer.
Most sunblocks don’t actually block all UVA radiation, though the product label may say UVA/UVB on it.
Physical Sunblock vs. Chemical Sunscreen
There’re two types of sun protection, chemical and physical.
Chemical sunscreens absorb UV radiation by reacting with it. These include oxybenzone and avobenzone, also known as parsol 1789. Non-US brands also use mexoryl and tinosorb which are better protection against UVA but not yet approved by the FDA.
When the chemical ingredients in sunscreen have reacted with the light, they are no longer as effective.
Physical sunblocks block or reflect radiation. This means that they don’t get “used up” in the same way as chemical sunscreens.
Physical sunscreens are your best bet against both UVA and UVB radiation. Look for products with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
Why doesn’t everyone use a physical sunblock?
Well, unfortunately these ingredients are ground to a white pasty powder in the sunscreen that makes it look like you never get any sun! If they’re ground more finely, called nanoparticles, it’s not as white, but recent research has suggested that these nanoparticles can get into your skin cells and damage them somehow. Ouch..
How strong of a sunscreen do I need?
When choosing a sun screen, you should typically look for something with an SPF of 15 or greater. (SPF stands for sun-protection-factor and though numbers as high as 70 exist, you don’t get significantly more protection than from a product with an spf 40.)
How often to wear it
Every day. This is a required step after or with your moisturizer for daytime. Even if you only spend a few minutes out-of-doors, sun damage is cumulative and will come back to haunt you later.
How to wear it
I prefer to use a physical sun block, since the chemical types tend to clog my pores. My favorite is in a mineral-based powder makeup, so I can combine the sunscreen-makeup step of my day (rather than the moisturizer-sunscreen). If you don’t wear makeup, you can also find clear powdered sunscreen.
If you’re spending a lot of time outside, reapply it! Most sunscreens only last for an hour or two, though they may say “all-day” protection.
If you’re going swimming or exercising (and sweating), reapply it!
Wear a hat, lip balm with spf protection and UV-protectant sunglasses.
Remember the Baz Lurhman graduation speech/song (actually written as an article for the Chicago Tribune)?
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of 97… wear sunscreen.
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be IT.”