Why Wearing Sunscreen Every Day is Important
For some, the word “summer” conjures up visions of the beach: rolling waves, sand between your toes, and most of all, copious amounts of sunscreen.
Over the past few decades, we’ve learned a lot about the damage that too much sun exposure can cause, ranging from wrinkles, to uneven skin tone, to varying degrees of sunburns. The focus here is, of course, the sun. But even though sunscreen may be synonymous to the warm rays of the sun, dermatologists now believe that it should be a part of your daily skincare routine.
But What About Cloudy Days?
Sunscreen may seem inessential during spring, fall, and winter, but your skin—your face in particular—is actually constantly exposed to UV radiation.
These rays are present whether it’s cold or hot. Even when the skies are overcast, those UV rays are able to penetrate clouds, making your skin vulnerable to sun damage. Though the UV rays may not be as powerful as on a day with blue skies, up to 80% of the sun’s rays are actually still being absorbed by our skin. Over time, your skin will accumulate damage, and may lead to developing into something much more insidious than a nice tan—like melanoma.
To ensure that your entire face is protected, you should aim to cover all areas of exposed skin. And don’t forget about your lips! There are a number of lip balms on the market that are 30 SPF or higher.
Okay, But I’m Always Indoors
Since many of us are now working from home, you may think that this exempts you from applying sunscreen on your face on a daily basis. Unfortunately, studies are showing that our increased screen time on computers and phones is also damaging to our skin.
In addition to UV rays seeping through your windows, our electronic devices emit something called high energy visible light (HEV). HEV is a blue light that’s also emitted by the sun, and has shown to have the ability to penetrate the skin even deeper than UV rays. Though HEV can cause your skin to age prematurely, it is not known to cause skin cancers.
With that said, HEV is nonetheless something that you should be defending your skin against. HEV can contribute to hyperpigmentaton, cause wrinkles and laxity, and some studies even show that it may stimulate the production of DNA-damaging free radicals. This can cause inflammation and break down healthy collagen.
So What Should I Look For in Sunscreen?
With everyday use, you should be looking for a sunscreen that’s labeled as “broad spectrum.” This means your skin will be protected against both UVA and UVB rays, making it effective for both indoor and outdoor use.
If you’re prone to sweating or if your face frequently comes into contact with moisture, a water-resistant sunscreen will ensure that your skin is protected in the face of moisture for a duration of time.
Sun protection factor, or SPF, is the factor that represents the level of protection the sunscreen provides. For everyday wear, we recommend a minimum of SPF 15, and in this context, more really is more. If you are in direct sun, remember to reapply to any exposed areas every 90 minutes.
Finally, it’s important to note whether the active ingredients present in your sunscreen are chemical or physical sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens feature chemicals that protect the skin through interacting with and absorbing UV energy. Physical sunscreens contain such ingredients as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which create a physical barrier for your skin that helps to reflect UV rays.
Though both can be effective against UV rays, those with sensitive skin should try to steer clear of chemical sunscreens as they may cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.
Sunscreen has a bad rap for being sticky and greasy, but many sunscreens formulated specifically for your face on the market these days apply on smoothly and absorb well, leaving your skin velvety smooth.
This means that there’s no excuse not to wear sunscreen daily, especially considering how important it is to protect your skin, whether you spend most days outdoors, or all your time indoors.
Have you incorporated sunscreen into your daily skincare routine?