At Park Avenue Dermatology, we address our patients’ skincare issues every day. It is impressive just how many responsibilities your skin has. The skin is your body’s protective barrier, shielding you from bacteria, viruses, pollution, temperature changes, and UV rays.
Who protects your skin? You can, by wearing sunscreen and incorporating other sun protection habits.
Why It’s Important to Protect Your Skin from the Sun
Keeping your skin healthy helps it to do its job and reduces your risk of infections. The sun is not the only thing that has a negative impact on your skin. Too little sleep, certain medications, smoking, harsh chemicals, lack of exercise, and poor nutrition can all wreak havoc on your skin. UV rays, however, are particularly damaging.
UV rays penetrate your skin. There are two types of UV rays that cause problems: UVA and UVB. UVA rays are long-wave rays. UVB are short-wave rays.
Between the two of them, they cause substantial damage to the skin, including aging the skin, changing the DNA of skin cells, damaging your immune system, harming your eyes, increasing the risk for cataracts, and causing cancer. It is important to remember that the UV rays can penetrate through clouds and even windows in your home.
What Can You Do To Best Protect Your Skin from the Sun?
There are a number of steps you can take this summer and all year to protect your skin. Don’t adopt only one recommendation. The best sun protection is a combination of a great sunscreen and other supportive measures. Cancer.net explores options for protecting your skin from the dangerous rays of the sun.
Develop a routine and protecting your skin will become automatic. Teach your children how to take care of and protect their skin from the time they are young because protecting the skin is the best way to avoid skin cancer.
You are probably well aware of the importance of sunscreen. Take a moment to confirm you are wearing adequate protection and using a quantity sufficient to coat your exposed skin.
An SPF of 30 in your moisturizer is a good starting point for protecting your skin. Some foundations also have SPF 30 protection. Don’t rely on your foundation alone as your sun protection.
There are many different formulations of sunscreen: lotion, spray, oil, powder, and stick. The best formulation is one with adequate broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection that you will consistently wear.
Chemical or Mineral (Physical) Sunscreen
There are two main categories of sunscreens: Chemical or Mineral. Both protect you from the UVA/UVB rays of the sun, but in different ways.
This type of sunscreen is very common and leaves no white residue. Chemical sunscreen does not sit on the top of your skin like mineral sunscreen. It is actually absorbed into your skin.
Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the UV rays and releasing them from your skin in the form of heat. Remember to apply your chemical sunscreen at least 20 minutes prior to sun exposure. Chemical sunscreens may be problematic for sensitive skin or acne-prone skin.
Mineral (also called Physical) Sunscreens
If you’ve ever applied sunscreen that seems to have a white, chalky cast, it was probably a mineral sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens form a physical barrier on top of your skin, deflecting both UVA and UVB rays.
You need to frequently reapply mineral sunscreen. Because it sits on top of the skin, it is easily removed by sweat, water, or getting rubbed off. It is necessary to reapply mineral sunscreen every two hours or even less if swimming or sweating on hot summer days. Mineral sunscreens are effective from the moment you apply them.
It is important to apply the proper amount of whichever sunscreen you use to adequately cover your face and body. In general, we find the majority of our patients apply far too little sunscreen to be as effective as the rating on the package indicates. Apply your sunscreen thoroughly and frequently.
Other Important Sun Protection Tips
- Consider clothing with UVA and UVB protection in the material. (Still apply your sunscreen.)
- Wear pants and long sleeve tops with fabrics that are tightly woven.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and protective sunglasses.
- Avoid direct sun exposure during the sun’s most powerful hours. The sun’s UV rays are usually the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- UV rays can go through windows, so remember your sunscreen even if you are spending a lot of time indoors.
- Remember that there is no sunscreen that is truly waterproof or blocks all UVA/UVB rays. Use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 and ideally SPF 50.
Protect Your Skin This Summer and All Year
At Park Avenue Dermatology, we treat patients with skin cancer, sun damage, wrinkles, and skin discolorations. Adequate sun protection all year round is your best line of defense against the development of skin cancer and skin damage.