Use it Wisely: The Benefits of Sunscreen
Before we know it, summer will be here. With this glorious season comes beautiful, warm weather, brilliant and bright days, and of course, excursions to the beach and outdoor patios. While it is wonderful to enjoy these moments to the fullest, always remember to apply sunscreen. Why? In addition to the increased threat of skin cancer, repeated sun damage can result in broken facial capillaries, skin discoloration, sunspots and dry, leathery and wrinkled skin- all indicators of premature aging.
Studies prove the effectiveness of sunscreen. Case in point, in 2013 Australian researchers released the results of a four year study on sunscreen usage. Nine hundred people (ages 25 to 55) participated in this study. The participants were divided into two groups – one group was asked to continue with their regular sunscreen regime, regardless of whether it was diligent or nonexistent, and the second group was instructed to use sunscreen daily. The second group was also told when to reapply and how much sunscreen to use.
The results were noteworthy. Skin aging was rated on a scale of one to six, with one signifying no or limited sun damage and six indicating the worst damage or extreme signs of aging. At the beginning of the study, both groups were rated a four. However, things changed after four years. Independent raters who evaluated both groups didn’t detect further signs of aging in the skin of the group who used sunscreen daily. In fact, their skin was in far better condition than in the other group –it was smoother, not as wrinkled and had greater elasticity. The daily sunscreen group retained their four rating, while the control group dropped to a rating of five.
“Skin surface patterns reflect the severity of the sun’s damage to the deeper skin, especially to the elastic fibers and collagen,” Dr. Adele Green, the study’s lead author told CNN in 2013. “We now have the scientific evidence to back the long-held assumption about the cosmetic value of sunscreen,” said Green. “Regular sunscreen use by young and mid-aged adults under 55 brings cosmetic benefits and also decreases the risk of skin cancer.”
The Cleveland Clinic offers the following suggestions about how to best protect your skin from the sun:
- No matter what, always wear sunscreen. Wear it daily and make it a habit.
- Apply sunscreen under your makeup.
- Apply sunscreen generously. Smooth it on your skin instead of rubbing it in. Apply a shot glass sized amount of sunscreen (approximately 30 ml) to all exposed parts of the skin to receive proper protection.
- Apply sunscreen at least 20 to 30 minutes before you go outside. Do this when you will be exposed to the sun for 30 minutes or more. Also, try to avoid the sun from 10am to 3pm when its ultraviolet rays are strongest.
- Cover all exposed areas with sunscreen. These areas include your face, lips, ears and the back of your hands.
- While outdoors, reapply sunscreen every three hours. If you are getting a lot of sun exposure or are sweating a lot, reapply it one to two hours.
Additionally, pay attention to the SPF or sun protection factor on the label of a sunscreen, which will indicate how well it will protect you from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays cause premature aging of the skin, while UVB rays can burn your skin. The higher the SPF, notes The Cleveland Clinic, the greater the amount of protection from the sun. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher.
As you make the most of these wonderful, sunny days, always remember to protect your skin by using sunscreen. You are worth the effort.