Hello spring! The weather changing is always a good excuse to reevaluate your skincare routine. And one skincare staple especially needed while out and about in sun filled skies is sunscreen! Now is as good enough a time as any to learn a bit more about the importance of sunscreen use for overall skin health.
The Damaging Effects of the Sun
One of the most harmful environmental factors that negatively affects the skin is UV radiation. Within the sun rays that cause UV radiation are what are called UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are able to deeply penetrate the skin and cause what is called oxidative damage through free radicals. This damage is the primary leading cause of skin aging. UVB rays are associated with skin burning. Of interesting note, is that UVA rays have a longer wavelength than UVB, making them more destructive to the deeper layers of the skin. Repeated sun damage to the skin can lead to even more serious damage such as skin cancer like melanoma. Bottom-line, the skin needs to be protected from the sun and its damaging effects. And there are several lines of defense you can use.
Probably the best way to shield your skin would be to use protective clothing. This includes hats or long sleeves when you plan to be out in the sun for prolonged periods of time. Physically shielding yourself from the harmful rays of the sun eliminates exposure and ensures that damage is avoided. While this would be ideal, it’s probably more realistic to consider other methods of protection for those wanting to spend some time at the beach or outdoors in shorts and a tank top.
An absolute must in protecting yourself from skin damage secondary to sun exposure includes sunscreen. Finding a sunscreen that works for you is an essential step in preparing the best skincare routine. There are two types of sunscreen you can choose: mineral-based sunscreen and chemical sunscreen.
What to Use?
Chemical sunscreens use chemicals such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. These chemicals are the most widely used in stand-alone sunscreens and other skincare products. While chemical sunscreens offer protection from harmful UV rays by absorbing them, they are probably not the best option for those with sensitive skin. The chemicals in these sunscreens can be irritating and can even cause allergic reactions in some people. If you are prone to irritation be sure to keep an eye out for these chemicals in skincare products and search for an alternative means of protection.
Mineral-based sunscreen products are ideal for those with sensitive skin. Mineral sunscreens work by reflecting and absorbing radiation from the sun. The most common formulations include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. If you are someone with easily irritated skin, a mineral sunscreen may be just the right approach to sun protection for you.