Let me preface this by saying that I am a sunscreen freak – the friend who annoyingly stresses the importance of SPF sunscreen use to anyone who’ll listen.
It doesn’t matter what the season is, what the weather is like, or if I’m at home all day – sunscreen is part of my daily morning routine. I’ve witnessed what my skin is like with/without sunscreen, and sadly, it doesn’t play nice with the sun. I’m prone to hyperpigmentation, so leaving the house without protecting my skin is an open invitation for dark spots to form. And fast.
But enough about me. Maybe you don’t suffer from the same issues. Maybe your skin tone is even, spot-free? If so, I’m slightly jealous; however, don’t think you’re off the hook forever. You may overlook the impacts right now, but they start becoming more visible as you age. By then, it’s too late; the damage is done.
Which is why sunscreen is vital to maintaining proper skin health. Think of it as a shield for your skin, working to block harmful UV rays before they have a chance to penetrate your skin.
What Is SPF?
SPF stands for sun protection factor; a measurement used to determine how long a sunscreen will protect you from UV rays. So, say you’re using a sunscreen containing SPF 15, it would take you 15 times longer for your skin to burn or redden versus if you weren’t wearing sunscreen.
What Should You Look for in an SPF Sunscreen?
Since UVA and UVB rays harm the skin, and in severe cases, lead to skin cancer, it’s important to always opt for a sunscreen that offers protection from both. Look for the term “broad spectrum” on the label- this will tell you whether a sunscreen blocks UVA and UVB rays.
A best practice is to use a sunscreen with at least SPF 30, which will block a whopping 97% of the sun’s UVB rays. While higher-numbered SPFs offer a slightly greater protection level, know that no sunscreen, even if marketed as such, can block 100% of the sun’s UVB rays.
What Are the Benefits of Wearing SPF Every Day?
If you’re still not convinced about the importance of SPF sunscreen, here are some key benefits you need to know:
1. Decreases Risk of Skin Cancer
Constant exposure to UVA and UVB rays increases your chance of getting skin cancer. The WHO has stated that UV radiation from the sun is a carcinogen or, in other words, a substance that causes cancer. Damage to your skin cells accumulates over time, which means you’re only doing more harm to your body every time you spend excessive periods in the sun.
But that’s why there’s SPF.
It can significantly reduce the likelihood of skin cancer by blocking these rays. Plus, it’s such a simple, easy-to-use solution praised by dermatologists across the world -you never have to second-guess its efficacy.
2. Maintains an Even Skin-Tone
By now, you’ve heard about my skin woe: hyperpigmentation. It’s shocking how one day in the sun with no sunscreen can result in an uneven skin tone. A post-sun effect that requires a whole army of products and treatments to reverse the damage.
Other skin conditions like wrinkles, texture, dehydrated skin, and discoloration can arise if SPF sunscreen is not worn. Our skin cells are not invincible. They need support to keep them healthy. Sunscreen not only prevents the appearance of such skin conditions but can also improve the current state of your skin – all positive news for your cells!
3. Decreases Risk of Sunburns
If you’ve suffered from a sunburn, consider it a warning sign from your body: don’t let it happen again. When UV rays are at their strongest, prolonged exposure in the sun increases the likelihood of sunburns to form. Heavy exposure can lead to more severe complications, including skin cancer.
4. Prevents Pre-Mature Aging
Sunscreen is, by far, one of the best anti-aging tools available. It can slow down the again process and prevent future photo-aging.
What’s photo-aging, you ask? It’s a term commonly used to describe pre-mature skin aging. Skin with this condition has a “thick, leathery look” and is typically coupled with discoloration. It’s all due to collagen. Repeated sun exposure can cause the skin’s collagen levels to break down, weakening its structure; this leads to the formation of wrinkles, sagging, spider veins, and rough patches on the skin.
Remember, your skin is an organ – the largest one, at that. Keeping it healthy means protecting your skin, and with so many SPF options available, it’s really not a challenging task to follow. So, next time, before you head out the door, slather up – your skin (and mom) will thank you.
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