Wearing sunscreen should be part of your daily skincare routine. Not many people realize that it takes a lot less exposure to cause damage. Wearing a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 50 is highly recommended.
You must realize that you don’t need to be standing in direct sunlight to be sunburnt. The sun’s most damaging rays can burn right through even your car window. The effects of the sun and the environment on our skin are insidious. The damaging effects of free radicals – atoms or molecules in the atmosphere, as well as UVA and UVB rays can linger in our skin for hours after the sun goes down. In a car, beside a window, even when it is cloudy outside, you are still vulnerable.
Research has shown that people with the following characteristics tend to face a higher risk of contracting skin cancer:
- Fair skin and hair, light coloured eyes, numerous moles, a personal or family history of skin cancer
- Major and repeated sunburn, especially before the age of 15
- Excessive artificial UVA tanning
- Immune suppression (from chemotherapy, infections, organ transplants – because transplant patients must take immune suppression drugs to treat HIV, lupus, and other conditions that compromise the immune system)
Skin protection should be a lifelong mission. Be sure to wear a sunscreen during the day. Not all sunscreens are created equal. The following are a list of tips to choose the best sunscreen.
- Choose a broad spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays burn your skin and are most harmful between 10.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. UVA rays work at all hours of the day in rain or shine. UVA rays penetrate the protective layer of the epidermis, hitting blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue. Damage, including carcinomas, deep wrinkles, excessive pigmentation, and even a weakened immune system, can show up years later.
- Choose a sunscreen which is photostable, meaning it can be stored for several weeks without losing its efficacy.
- Choose a non-irritating sunscreen that is gentle even on sensitive skin.
- Choose a formulation that does not block your pores and cause acne breakouts.
- Choose the best SPF sunscreen – choose a product with at least SPF 20. If you have lighter skin, or if you live in the Tropics, chose a product with SPF 30, 45 or even 60.
- Choose products that integrate sunscreens so that you can get some coverage even if you forget your sunscreen. Wash-on sunscreens from Aquea Scientific, Klenskin and Solise are excellent examples. Facial and body washes from these companies leave behind sunscreen on your face and body even after you wash off the product. The sunscreen is positively charged while your skin is negatively charged. The active sun protection ingredients in the washes actually cling to your skin and remain on your skin after you shower.