Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past two decades, you’re well aware that most of the aging of your skin occurs from exposure to the sun. The sun is not only the culprit that causes wrinkles and brown spots, but it also causes skin cancer, broken blood vessels, and other skin disorders. In fact, in the United States, more than one million sun-related non-melanoma skin cancers are newly diagnosed each year. Over 60,000 new cases of melanoma, the most lethal of skin cancers, are diagnosed each year. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and that number is increasing.
Protecting your skin from sun damage should begin with a good sun protection product. At Skin Therapease, we recommend a non-comedogenic (it won’t clog your pores) sunscreen. Look for products that contain zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide. Both of these ingredients are considered physical sun blockers, which reflect and refract the infrared waves and are approved by the FDA for use in sunscreens.
Chemical ingredients used in sunscreens absorb the sun’s rays, and include Octyl Salicylate, Oxybenzone or Avobenzone(Parsol), all of which are approved by the FDA. In many instances, active ingredients in sunscreens are mixed for best results.
When choosing a sun protection product, be sure to avoid any ingredients to which you have an allergy. Look for a SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30, and if you’re going to be out in the direct sunlight, go with a 50 SPF for the added protection. Tinted sun protection products are also available which eliminate the need for foundation, and will help even out any blotchiness on your skin.
Some tips for preventing sun damaged skin include:
- Avoid being out in the direct sun during the middle of the day. It’s better to get your dose before 10 am or after 3 pm.
- Wear a sunscreen every day, all year long.
- Reapply your sunscreen regularly, especially if you’re going to be outdoors.
- If you’re going to be out in the direct sunlight for long periods of time, think about sun protective clothing such as that made by Solumbre or Coolibar. In addition, get into the shade, get under an umbrella or wear a hat.
- Protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays, too, by wearing sunglasses.
- Protect your children from the sun. Babies under 6 months old should be shielded from direct sun. For children older than six months, you can apply sunscreen. Use a formula made for children, as it’s gentler on their skin and less likely to sting their eyes. Teach older children to get into the habit of applying sunscreen regularly.
- To keep your skin young and healthy for as long as possible, avoid tanning beds and artificial sun light sources.