Here comes the Sun(screen)

You must wear sunscreen. If you are serious about having good skin, both now and in the future, you should consider sunscreen an important part of your routine, no matter what time of year it is. Just because the air is cold does not mean that the sun’s rays can’t reach you.

I have dark skin, and I’ve only been burned once (as a kid at summer camp), but for some reason I’ve always been really concerned about the sun’s effect on my skin. For one thing, I really don’t like how the sun feels. I live in Florida, and have always had a hate/hate relationship with the sun. To me, there is nothing pleasant about feeling like you live in an oven. Knowing what ovens do to food, and knowing what the sun does to skin (wrinkles, dark spots, and melanoma), has made me quite fond of wearing sunscreen.

UV Radiation

The sun gives off ultraviolet (UV) is radiation of 2 kinds: UVA and UVB. Each type affects the skin differently, but both are prevalent. UVA or “Aging” rays damage the skin’s deepest layers, leading to wrinkles and dark spots. UVB or “Burning” rays damage the top layer of the skin, causing redness and burns, which lead to the development of cancer. These rays can penetrate cloud coverage, which is why it’s important to protect your skin year round. Unprotected sun exposure can also cause any acne scars you already have to get darker.

SPF

“Sun protection factor” is the term for how long it will take the skin to get red wearing a sunscreen compared to without it. I don’t spend enough time in direct sunlight to get red, so for me SPF actually means how long my skin is being protected from shriveling up on a cellular level like a baked potato in an oven set to Broil. We need a sunscreen with a high SPF that has effective ingredients to protect against both kinds of UV rays. This would is called “broad spectrum”.

Myths

Now that you agree with me about wearing sunscreen, you probably want to run out and buy the “#1 Dermatologist Rated” brand of sunscreen promising an SPF 80. Please don’t. When it comes to sunscreen, there is more to consider. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a “non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.” They complete studies on different skincare products and provide recommendations on the best products. For sunscreen, they test and rank the products, eliminating those with untrue marketing claims (SPF higher than 50), dangerous additives, and poor quality UV protection.

The Search

To find good sunscreens that I felt good using every day, I research the best products that were highly rated and were known for not leaving a greasy or ghostly white tint on the skin. I then cross referenced these products with those I found on EWG’s online guide and came up with a list of sunscreens that I have used, or plan to try in the future.

  • Skinceuticals Physical UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 30
  • Skinceuticals Sheer Physical UV Defense SPF 50
  • Coola Baby Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer Unscented SPF 50
  • Coola Body Plant UV Sunscreen Moisturizer Unscented SPF 30
  • Coola face plant UV Sunscreen Moisturizer Unscented SPF 30
  • Ole Henriksen Protect the Truth
  • Supergoop Forever Young Hand Cream with Sea Buckthorn SPF 50
  • Supergoop Antioxidant-Infused Sunscreen Mist w/ Vitamin C SPF 50
  • Paula’s Choice Resist Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense, SPF 30
  • VI Derm Sun Protection SPF 50+ (this is my favorite! It hasn’t been rated by EWG yet, but I checked the ingredient list compared to EWG’s assessment, and there is only one ingredient with a moderate concern. This product blends well with everything else I put on my skin, but gives a feeling of satisfying protection)

Even if you chose not to try any of the products I’ve recommended, I seriously encourage you to find an effective sunscreen of your own that you use every day. Most people I’ve read about who were diligent about their sunscreen use, had a lot to show for it. In my research, I haven’t come across anyone who regretted wearing sunscreen every day in their youth and ended up with great skin as they got older.

Signature dash

Sources:

EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens

Skin Cancer Foundation Understanding UVA and UVB

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