Why Sunscreen is your most important part of your skincare routine!
This would not be a beauty blog worth reading if I didn’t start off with the most important part of any skincare routine, Sunscreen.
Here in Australia we have the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. It has been dubbed our “National Cancer”. The use of sunscreen is an important part of anyone’s life to help reduce the risk of developing skin cancer along with helping to reduce premature ageing in the skin.
I’ll start with the basics. There are 3 types of UV rays.
UVA- Are better known as the Aging rays. They penetrate to your dermis which is the thickest layer of the skin. In the dermis is where all of our Collagen, Elastin, blood vessels, nerve endings and ground substances (Glyco amino glycans) are. They form a network that holds our skin up. When they are exposed unprotected photoaging occurs (premature ageing including wrinkles) and the immune system can be suppressed.
UVB – Are known as the Burn rays. UVB rays are the cause of most skin cancers. Long-term exposure can cause skin cancer and even affect your immune system. They only penetrate to the epidermal layer of our skin. In here you find what we call Melanocytes. These cells produce pigment called melanin, which is responsible for different skin colour. The UV stimulates these and this is how you get a tan. Along with this tan you will receive sunburn, skin ageing and an increased risk of skin cancer. *Thumbs up*. They can also damage the skin cells DNA directly. All this damage caused is irreversible to.
UVC - rays are the strongest rays and the most dangerous and damaging of all the rays. However the ozone layer filters these rays and they don’t generally reach the Earth’s surface. UVC rays are usually found in manmade sources – welding torches and mercury lamps.
Facts to know about the Sun and Sunscreens:
- SPF’s, they have Expiry dates! Most are good for 2 years from packaging. All sunscreens legally have to have this expiry date. It’s generally found on the crease of tubes or under the bottom if it’s a bottle. Make sure you take note when purchasing and remember to check when you have had it for a while. Seems obvious but an expired Sunscreen won’t offer you the protection you need.
- Sunscreens should be put on at least 20 minutes PRIOR to sun exposure. All too often I see people putting SPF on while sitting on the beach. Sorry to say but it is too late by this time you will have already had damage occur. On average it takes 13 minutes to receive UV damage on unprotected skin.
- Even on a cloudy day you can get sunburn. Up to 80% of the sun’s rays can penetrate through fog, mist or light cloud cover. You can also get sunburn in the water. The Surface of water can reflect an extra 5% of the sun’s rays back at you. This is added on top of what you are already receiving. Snow is the sneakiest; it reflects the sun like a mirror, reflecting up to 95% of its rays! This is why it is so important to wear SPF protection EVERYDAY. Also the reason why we are also told to stay out of the sun between 10am -2pm. (11am-3pm if you’re in daylight savings).
- There has been research to show that even one, severe sunburn in your childhood can increase the risk of melanoma or other skin cancers later in life. Generally the Sun damage you see later on in life has already occurred before you turned 18! So Parents take note! SLIP, SLOP, SLAP your kids!!
Types of Sunscreens!
There are two main types. Physical and Chemical Sunscreens
Physical Sunscreens are very important to wear especially on your face. They create a barrier on your skin and deflect the UV rays. Physical sunscreens can be recognised by looking at the active ingredients on the container. Look for Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide. They can often be thicker in texture so not usually favourable for all over your body. – Think that Simpsons episode where Maggie gets covered in sunscreen.
Chemical sunscreens absorb the UV rays, neutralize them and then deflect them back off your skin. These are most commonly used as body sunscreens. Through absorbing the UV rays it stimulates your Melanocytes, which results in a tan. So you CAN tan with sunscreens on and if you feel you must sun tan, then using a chemical SPF at least to protect yourself is highly recommended!
Extra Triva your skin will love you for;
- Try and use a Sunscreen that is a minimum SPF 30, broad spectrum and water-resistant. This will give you the longest protection. Also make sure you buy one here in Australia. Our sunscreens go through vigorous testing and there are many laws in place so they are the highest grade and suitable for the suns position to Australia.
- You may notice that sometimes if you’re in the sun ALL day even if you reapply your sunscreen you still get burnt? This is because you have run out of “Sun time” and no matter what your skin can’t protect itself any longer. On average a medium skin toned human using a SPF30 will give you 300mins in the sun. Once this is up you need to GET OUT of the sun because you will burn!
- Our natural MED takes on average a full 24hrs to rebuild itself, so if you sunbake on consecutive days, you may find you will burn faster the next day as it hasn’t had time to reset itself yet.
Don’t make excuses
I’ve heard so many lame excuses as to why people won’t use Sunscreen. The most annoying being:
- ” I don’t like the chemicals in sunscreens”.
Come on people a few chemicals that ARE NOT bad for your skin, or skin cancer? With a skin cancer you would either have to have the cancer cut out, being left with a huge scar. Or in a worst case scenario, chemotherapy. Those chemicals I’m sure are a lot worse for you then the few non harmful ones in sunscreens.- I’ll let that one sink in
- “I don’t like the feel, they make me break out.”
There are so many different sunscreens out there now that everyone will find one that suits them. Many mineral or oil free sunscreens are light in texture and don’t clog your skin. You just have to go in search. Keep testing one until you find one for you. Consult a dermatologist if you are having real life struggles as its more than likely other factors contributing not just the SPF
- “I work indoors so I’m not in the sun”.
To which my first question back is “how do you get to work?” usually the answer is via a car, bus or train. You get damage while being in these forms of transports. The sun comes through your windows and inflicts damage. Tinting on cars can filter slightly but the front window of a car is never tinted. A lot of people have cancers burnt off their hands and sides of face due to this.
Solariums: my opinion if you still use one you need to wake up and stop being so vain! There are so many warnings out there and they aren’t just there to lecture you, they really are BAD! It exposures you to UV radiation that is up to 5 times stronger than the midday sun! Don’t’ believe these Vitamin D stories they tell you. Driving in your car gives you the entire Vitamin D intake you need on a daily basis. You don’t need to die for beauty! Thankfully in most states of Australia these are now illegal! – Finally the government does something right!
Of course I’m going to recommend that you just fake tan! It’s the safest way possible!! There are heaps and heaps out there now too! No excuse of going orange! Even if you just go brown and don’t burn, the change in colour of your skin (i.e. your tan) means that damage has occurred. Once your tan fades you have no colour but guess what! That damage stays with you for life! Think about all this information before you think about going and lying in the sun for hours!
I’m a born and breed Queenslander; I grew up on the beach. It’s my happy place and usually where you will find me. This isn’t to say stay out of the sun and don’t enjoy life. Just try and be more mindful about your skin when you are outside in the sun.
Wear a hat
Wear protective clothing where possible
I have seen the effects of what years in the sun does to you. My beautiful, amazing mother has had a melanoma cut out of her arm, leaving her with a huge scar. Had they not have found it when they did she wouldn’t be here with us. She has also had many treatments on her face to bring out all the hundreds of little Basal cell carcinoma’s that have formed. Burning these off is generally the treatment they go for. It doesn’t look very pleasant. So you make the call! Wear Sunscreen EVERYDAY! I will also suggest you go get your body checked once a year at least; to make sure you don’t have any spots you should be keeping an eye on!