Navigating the maze of suncare information out there can be daunting, with conflicting information about the best way to protect your skin from harmful – and aging – UV rays and unwanted pigmentation. One thing most people agree on is that excess sun exposure can harm and prematurely age your skin, and can cause cancers, too.
Here’s what I’ve learned on the subject so far.
UVA AND UVB RAYS
Short-wave ultraviolet (UV B) cause burning while long wave (UV A) rays, which penetrate the skin more deeply, are the ones responsible for aging and sun damage that you will see years down the line – including damage to the skin’s elastin and collagen, plus pigmentation and enlargement of blood vessels. A good quality, broad spectrum sunscreen protects against both.
TYPES OF SUNSCREEN
There are two ways to protect skin from burning and damage; either physical sunscreens, which work to physically block the sun, or the chemical type, which act as a filter to absorb or scatter the sun’s rays. While the chemical types aren’t visible on the skin and tend to be much lighter, most experts recommend a physical sunscreen as they offer protection against all UV rays and don’t irritate sensitive skin.
In case you didn’t know, SPF stands for sun protection factor. Although it might be confusing, the numbers don’t refer to how long you can stay in the sun, but to the amount of UV protection the product offers.
People often – wrongly – believe that by choosing a lower SPF they’ll tan more quickly, but this increases the risk of burning and long-term skin damage – and you’re more likely to get an uneven tan and your skin will peel as a result because it’s burned.
It’s better to tan slowly.
Start with a high SPF, applied properly, and as your skin builds a tan you can graduate to a cream with a lower SPF; this will help it last longer, too. It’s important to apply sunscreen properly.
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