How to Protect Your Skin From Sun Damage

protecting your skin from the sunWith the Earth’s ozone layer, our primary defense against the sun’s harmful effects, growing thinner day after day, protecting your skin from the sun has become an even more important matter. Before everything else, it is essential to be acquainted with some relevant terminology which will help you make informed decisions about your skin health.

Some Terms You Need to Know

Ultraviolet B or UVB rays are mostly absorbed by the ozone layer. They have a high energy intensity, but they do not penetrate deeply into the skin and are responsible for damage, like sunburn and skin reddening, to the skin’s superficial layers. UVB rays can also directly damage the skin’s DNA due to its high energy.

Ultraviolet A or UVA rays, while not as intense as UVB rays, are capable of penetrating the skin. UVA rays make up almost 95 percent of the ultraviolet radiation that reaches the Earth’s surface. They have been shown to contribute to the development of skin cancer, skin aging, and wrinkling, because of damage done to the skin’s collagen.

SPF or sun protection factor, contrary to popular belief, is not a measure of the amount of protection that a sunscreen offers. Rather, it is a relative comparison of how long UVB rays will take to redden the skin with sunscreen versus without. For example, a woman using SPF 30 sunscreen will take around 30 times longer for her skin to redden, as compared to when she’s not wearing any.

Broad-spectrum sunscreens are sunscreens formulated to protect you from both UVA and UVB radiation.

Tips for Choosing the Right Sunscreen

Gone are the days when having a high SPF value was the sole deciding factor in buying sunscreens. Choosing the best type of sunscreen entails many details to consider other than SPF. For everyday use, many skin products like lotions, moisturizers and aftershaves have a small amount of sunscreen in them, usually SPF 15. For indoor workers who have minimal exposure to sunlight, this should be enough protection for their daily activities.

For those who plan on spending a lot of time outdoors, either for work or for leisure, consider using stronger sunscreens, like the water-resistant types that hold together on your skin even when you sweat.  However, these types of sunscreens are not suitable for daily use, as they are quite sticky and need to be reapplied every two hours or so.

By far, the best types of sunscreen are broad-spectrum sunscreens, since they offer protection from both UVA and UVB, whereas most sunscreens only protect from UVB. Unlike with UVB rays, there is no measure of UVA protection, which is why it is a good idea to pay close attention to a sunscreen’s ingredients.

Many sunscreens available in the market today use several active chemical and physical ingredients to provide multi-spectrum protection. A few of these ingredients include: avobenzone, ecamsule, sulisobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide. A sunscreen containing any one or a combination of these ingredients should give you adequate protection against UVA rays.

Other Tips to Prevent Sun Damage

Protecting yourself from the sun can also give you a chance to be creative with your wardrobe. Mix and match clothes and accessories while protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.

  • Sun hats and broad hats are refreshing accessories that can also double as protection for your face.
  • Wearing shades and sunglasses help protect your eyes from excessive sun exposure.
  • You can use umbrellas and parasols to give yourself shade if you need to walk around under the sun.
  • Sun protective gear clothing has fibers specifically designed for protecting your skin from the sun.
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