The Striking Significance of Sunscreen

Sunscreen is often overlooked or seems optional to many people. While most know they cannot go into the sun for even a few minutes without getting a burn, some never seem to burn and have never used sunscreen. Whether you burn easily or have never had a burn before, sunscreen is essential to everyone. With any type of sun and outdoor exposure, sunscreen must be applied.

A sunburn is more problematic than it appears, there are obvious signs like reddened skin that is uncomfortable, tight, and itchy. Looking closer though, sun exposure means cells and blood vessels have actually been damaged, the skin is thinner and weaker making you more at risk for illnesses and other complications.

Damaged cells also mean cellular change and that the body is working to attack damaged cells and replace them with healthy cells. That sounds like a positive process for the body to accomplish, but damaged cells in the skin can lead to skin cancer. Skin cancers start when this cellular damage affects the DNA of genes that control skin cell growth. Not only does the damage reach down to a cellular level, but sun exposure can drastically affect your appearance. UV exposure is the reason behind 80% of your skin’s aging.

A sunburn is not the only sign of this damage occurring. Even if you are of a darker complexion or feel you do not burn as easily, the sun still damages the skin and leaves lasting effects. Protection from sunburn is not the only reason to wear sunscreen. Sunburn might be the immediate and visible reaction, but damage from the sun occurs over a lifetime.

Anyone can avoid this with some simple precautionary steps:

  • Apply sunscreen as part of your routine
    • i.e. when you’re getting dressed each morning or add it to your skin care routine
  • Understand the SPF (sun protection factor):
    • SPF 30 is the most common. There is not a sunscreen that can block all UV rays. SPF 15 blocks up to 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays.
    •  Everyone should use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
  • Get the most out of your sunscreen:
    • Apply sunscreen about 20-30 minutes before going outdoors (this allows the sunscreen to absorb).
    • Apply every 2 hours even if the product is labeled as all day or waterproof.
    • Apply everywhere, even your lips, ears, face and back of hands. Every skin cell that can be damaged is as important as any other.

The sun has many positive effects on us and our health, and we can all truly enjoy outside time every now and then. All we need is some simple consideration and accurate sunscreen application. It may seem like a small matter but it can have lasting effects on the skin and body’s health.