With summer in full swing I have been talking to my clients to ensure they do everything they can to protect their skin from the sun. In doing this I have found that some are confused about the sun’s rays and how damaging they really are. I figured a true explanation about the sun would be a perfect topic for this month’s blog.
Sunlight is essential for all life on Earth. However, two out of the three rays the sun emits can also cause life threatening problems such as cancer. UVA, UVB, and UVC rays are the three rays given off by the sun. UVC rays are absorbed by the ozone layer and do not reach the earth. UVA and UVB rays do reach the earth and cause pre-mature skin aging, eye damage, and skin cancers.
UVA rays are always present during all daylight hours ALL YEAR ROUND. They also penetrate clouds, glass and clothing. They have been commonly referred to as the “aging” rays because of their major role in skin aging and wrinkling since they penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays. Recent studies show that UVA rays do contribute to and even initiate the development of skin cancers. Therefore, it is crucial to wear spf of at least 30 every day all year round. It is also important to avoid tanning beds since they are made up of UVA rays only and are basically CANCER BEDS! Stay out of them!
Although UVB rays do not penetrate glass, they are the main rays that cause sunburn, commonly referred to as the “burning” rays. They tend to damage the superficial layers of the epidermis and play a critical role in the evolution of skin cancer. They are also present all year round, but their intensity varies by season, location and time of day. In the U.S. The highest amount of UVB rays hits from April to October from 10:00am to 4:00pm. It is best to find shade and avoid the sun during these times and again, to wear an spf of at least 30 and reapply if you are out for over an hour and a half!
Now that we know how harmful both UVA and UVB rays are lets discuss proper protection. Look for a sunscreen with an sSPF of at least 30 that is “broad spectrum.” This phrase tells us that you are getting effective UVA and UVB protection. All of the sunscreens we have here at Calospa are broad spectrum sunscreens. Some contain only physical blocking ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These are wonderful for anyone who is sensitive to chemical SPF ingredients. Physical ingredients simply sit on top of the skin and block the UVA and UVB rays from the skin. Some of our sunscreen products contain chemical ingredients which penetrate the skin and absorb the UVA and UVB rays. Personally, I like to have a sunscreen with a combination of physical and chemical ingredients, but if you are sensitive a physical only block is a good choice. Reapplication is key! I recommend reapplying every hour and a half if you plan on being in the sun for longer than that. Also use enough! To ensure you get the full coverage of your sunscreen use about a shot glass full for the whole body and face. Apply it 30 minutes prior to sun exposure to ensure proper absorption of the ingredients. It makes me cringe when I see parents putting sunscreen on their children when arriving at the pool and then the kids jump right into the water. Apply 30 MINUTES BEFORE you will be in the sun. I always apply spf to my two boys before they get dressed for the pool. Also swim shirts, hats and protective clothing are all good ideas as well as sun glasses to protect your eyes. That is all for now. Enjoy the summer safely and keep your skin and eyes protected!
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