Warm weather is here, and that means spending more time outdoors. This is also the time to take in all that the sun has to offer, even damaging ultraviolet rays.
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There are two things for sure when it comes to the sun; it feels good, and overexposure can be hazardous.
I never realized how much I needed the sun until I moved to Alaska. Although I seriously despise being hot, I find the sun here to be amazingly therapeutic. It feels heavenly on my skin, especially after enduring about six months of darkness. I desire to take full advantage of this valuable source of vitamin D, so anytime the sun is shining, you’ll find me outside or next to a window soaking it in.
While I thoroughly enjoy the beauty and warmth the sun provides, I do take specific precautions to ensure my skin doesn’t suffer the consequences of too much sun exposure. My primary focus when it comes to sun protection is my face.
It’s not that I’m not concerned about the skin on the rest of my body, but as we all know, facial skin is thinner and more easily damaged. It’s the part of me that gets the most attention. I mean honestly, who takes selfies of their knee caps?
Spending too much time outside without sun protection will most likely result in:
- Hyperpigmentation or age spots
- Sagging skin
- Premature aging and wrinkles
- Skin Cancer
MELANOMA is a cancer that begins in the melanocytes, the skin coloring cells in the epidermis. The deadliest form of skin cancer due to its ability to quickly spread in the body, melanoma is the third most commonly diagnosed form of skin cancer (4% of cases), killing one American every hour.
What Causes Sun Damage?
The sun releases two types of ultraviolet rays, Ultraviolet B (UVB) and Ultraviolet A (UVA). Without digging too deep scientifically, UVA rays are longer, deeper penetrating rays than UVB rays. Although UVB causes the immediate burn, UVA can cause more damage to the skin since they attack cell membranes and change the proteins that make up the fibers commonly known as collagen and elastin.
Sagging of the skin occurs when these fibers are broken down. So essentially, sun exposure helps speed up the aging process and can also be the cause of some skin cancers such as melanoma.
When should I use sun protection?
Sun protection is to be applied every single day–even when you can’t see the sun. UV rays are always present, which means you should religiously wear sunscreen year around.
Who is at Risk?
Various studies show that fair-skinned individuals are more prone to sun damage than those with naturally darker complexions. However, this doesn’t mean that people with deeper skin tones are exempt.
People of color are blessed with melanin, which provides some natural protection from the sun, but not at 100%. While it’s true that the risk of cancer is higher in Caucasians, studies suggest that melanoma is deadlier in people of color because diagnosis usually happens in the later stages of the disease.
For this reason, it’s a dangerous misconception to believe that people in ethnic groups with dark skin do not need to wear sunscreen. It’s vital that everyone wears it because no one is immune to the harmful effects of too much sun exposure.
Can sun damage be reversed?
In particular instances, some processes and procedures can be done to reverse sun damage. These include the use of retinol creams, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser treatments.
So although it is a possibility to reverse sun damage, there is no guarantee, and it can be costly. And as we all know, dealing with cancer is a bit more complicated. The best way to make sure your skin stays healthy is to prevent damage from happening in the first place.
Protecting Your Face
As women, we pay a lot of attention to our faces. We purchase serums to smooth out wrinkles and creams to combat dryness, but how much emphasis do we put into finding proper sun protection? If this is something you do diligently, that’s awesome. For those who don’t, it’s time to get with the program.
Here are some basic but effective ways to protect your face from harmful UV rays.
Wear a Sun Hat
Wearing hats is a fun and stylish way to keep the sun from damaging your pretty face. There are a lot to choose from but wide-brimmed hats are my favorite.
Avoid the Sun at Peak Times
There are certain hours of the day where you’re more at risk for sun damage. The sun peak hours differ from total hours of daylight. The peak sun hour is when the intensity of sunlight is 1000 watts per square meter.
The sun is at the highest point during noon, and UV exposure is the strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. Try your best to limit your sun time during those hours.
Wear a Mineral Sunscreen
I’m not a heavy makeup wearer, and in the warmer months, there are days I won’t wear any at all. But the one product I won’t skip is my sunscreen.
All sun protection creams are not created equal, especially when it comes to darker skin. Years ago, there weren’t any sunscreens that I would wear because they would leave a white cast on my skin, even when adequately absorbed.
Thankfully, companies and brands now realize that this isn’t cute. Also, because of new formulations and advances in technology, there are better options for people of color.
Mineral sunscreens are an excellent option because applying them adds a layer of protection on the skin to block both UVA and UVB light rays. Studies have also shown that these are a safer type of sun protection because they include ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are mineral filters that prevent harmful rays from penetrating the skin.
You all know I love a multi-use product. I use this mineral sunscreen on my face daily. Not only does it protect me from the sun sans the white residue, but it’s also hydrating, filled with anti-aging ingredients and it’s makeup friendly. I’ve never used this one, but have heard great things about it.
Enjoy your time outside this summer, remember to protect your face from possible irreversible sun damage.
Thank you for reading.