Okay. I know what you’re thinking. You have seen all the warnings (hype?) about how you should protect your skin from the damaging rays of the summer sun. You know that sunbathing (or golfing, running, playing tennis…) without a high SPF sunscreen is to your skin as smoking is to your lungs. You get it.
Then why do I see so many women (and men) with obvious premature aging and other sun damage on their exposed skin? Maybe that group does not include you. But even if it does not, there are benefits to understanding the difference between sunscreen ingredients and how best to protect your skin.
I’m sure there is no need to tell you that 1 in 5 Americans will get skin cancer during their lifetime. Because many cases of skin cancer are not diagnosed early enough, over 12,000 of us will die from skin cancer each year. And that number is rising.
For several years, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has warned that the depletion of the ozone layer of the atmosphere allows more intense UV rays to reach the beaches, golf courses, tennis courts and your face and do more damage quicker than ever. So what to do. If you haven’t been paying attention to your skin, it’s never too late to start. And there are plenty of ways to do it, some easier than others.
First, know that there are 17 FDA approved active sunscreen ingredients, each with its plus and minuses (The Skin Cancer Foundation, Ritu Saini, MD and Andrea Szemplinski, MS, RPA-C). Find one (or more) that fit your lifestyle and preferences, start a routine to be kind to your skin and stick to it. Know that there are two basic categories of sunscreen ingredients: chemical and physical. Chemical ingredients such as PABA and cinnamates, absorb UV rays before they do their damage and convert the suns radiation into heat energy. Physical ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide deflect the sun’s rays before they penetrate the skin.
And while both types can be safe and effective if properly used, not everyone should use both. Babies and young children can be sensitive to PABA and oxybenzone which can cause a skin reaction, so most sunscreens labeled for children contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. If you are very fair skinned, are prone to acne or have other sensitive skin problems, then try using sunscreen labeled for babies. Check all ingredients on the label if you have other skin issues. Alcohol is sometimes an ingredient in sunscreens and this ingredient should be avoided if you have rosacea or allergies. Other chemicals you might be careful with include salicylates and ecamsule.
While all sunscreens are not created equal, whatever type or brand you choose must be applied in sufficient quantity in order for the SPF to be attained. In other words, if you apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30, but you apply a very thin layer, then you may only be getting protection of an SPF of 10 or 15. It’s better than nothing, but it may not be enough to save your skin from damage, or more importantly, from skin cancer. Especially when exercising or lounging in the pool, reapply often. Of course, if you can plan your activities to avoid peak sun hours of 10 AM to 4 PM or 11 AM to 3 PM, then you are already a step ahead.
If incorporating the application of sunscreen on your face is just another annoying step in the process of looking your best, then try a foundation that contains an SPF ingredient to eliminate the separate step of applying sunscreen. Our GIELLA custom blend cosmetics foundation includes titanium dioxide, one of the ingredients recommended for babies or sensitive skin. Using this type of multipurpose makeup year-round will give you a base level of SPF under which you can add a thin layer of another sunscreen for when you expect to spend a longer time in the intense summer sun.
1 – Find a fabulous hat
2 – Wear fabrics with SPF
3 – Get yearly body checks by a dermatologist
4 – Find a pretty parasol umbrella.
Meanwhile, enjoy the sunny weather, but do it carefully and protect your skin.