Myth No. 7 - Only wear sunscreen on sunny days.
Summer is near and every sunscreen commercial and skincare expert is saying sunscreen is a 'must' for avoiding signs of pre-mature aging from UV damage. Actually, even if it’s not summer, nor sunny, sunscreen is still a daily skincare essential.
Why is that? To bust this myth, let's dive a bit into the formation of UV rays.
UV rays comprise of three subgroups: UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC is effectively blocked by the earth's ozone layer, so it never reaches our skin. UVA and UVB rays, however, can pass the ozone and reach the Earth. UVB primarily affects the upper layers of our skin and is the culprit of this sunny day myth. UVB levels increase on sunny days and is what's responsible for tanning our skin, causing sunburn due to overexposure, and even causing skin cell damage which may lead to skin cancer. UVA, on the other hand, has the ability to penetrate deeply into our skin and damage our collagen production, resulting in wrinkle formation. While sunny days may increase the level of UVB rays, UVA rays remain at the same level all year round. This is why for the beauty- and health-conscious, sunscreen is a daily skincare essential.
But let's face it, who enjoys putting that sticky white paste on their face? Are all sunscreen sticky and white? Let's take a look next at how sunscreen works.
Sunscreen works by adding UV filters into cosmetic products. These UV filters can be either chemical or physical. Chemical UV filters protect the skin by absorbing the UV rays and users are instructed to apply these sunscreens about 15 minutes in advance of sun exposure to allow time for the chemicals to penetrate into the skin. Studies have shown that these chemicals may accumulate in our soft body tissues (Schlumpf et al., 2010) and eventually will release the UV energy, creating free radicals that cause pre-mature skin aging and skin DNA damage (Hanson et al., 2006). Popular ingredients in chemical sunscreens include: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, octinoxate. Physical UV filters work by sitting on top of the skin to deflect UV rays. The common mineral ingredient is zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. And you guessed it, they are the reason for sticky white pasty sunscreen texture.
Finally - I can't mention sunscreen and not talk about SPF. SPF stands for "Sun Protection Factor" and measures the skin's reaction to UV rays at different dosages. The only way to truly know how much SPF is in a sun product is through exposing the skin under different conditions in a lab test environment. SPF only measures the product's protection against UVB; if you want protection against UVA, you must look for the term "broad spectrum" on the product label.
I hope you’ve learned something useful that will help protect you and your little one’s skin not only this summer, but all year round!