We all need a reminder now and again about how to properly take care of our skin. After all, it is easy to get caught up in the month-to-month adjustments or product trials that we begin to forget elements that we ought not to forget. Most of the time we forget little details like how a serum should go on before any other product after finishing cleaning our skin. Other times we end up forgetting whole products and entirely setting aside things like a retinol cream or forgetting to do our regular mask. Each of these have their own effect on our skin’s overall health and that’s why we often spend so much time trying to correct our mistakes. One thing we need to try not to forget is sunscreen. It is vital to ensuring both current and long term skincare. Your sunscreen or SPF-including moisturizer or similar product is what will help reduce the overall signs of aging over time.
Anatomy of A Sun Ray
There are two kinds of ultraviolet (UV) ray that we’re concerned with when it comes to sun exposure. UVA and UVB rays each play their own part when it comes to our skin’s potentially for illness and its overall health. The fact that the sun can contribute to our health is why we have such an awkward relationship with sun exposure. Ultimately, any exposure needs to be short, controlled, and when wearing appropriate sun protection. UVA rays bring some of the more worrying effects for those of us concerned with avoiding the signs of aging for as long as possible. These are capable of penetrating deep into the skin and doing damage to each layer as they go. They’re typically responsible for introducing free radicals into your skin and being what causes the majority of photoaging. However, UVB rays don’t get off easily either. They’re responsible for both sunburn and potential damage that can lead to skin cancer. Both UVA and UVB rays need to be protected against.
Inspecting the Damage
Telling you to just avoid sun exposure isn’t necessarily as helpful as explaining the kind of damage that you can expect. As we said before, UVA rays bring free radicals and penetrate deeply into the skin. This is a problem because free radicals continually bond with and break the structure of various compounds in your body. They are especially good at breaking down collagen, an important structural protein in your body. Collagen is highly prevalent in the skin and is actually what makes youthful skin so firm. We need it and yet it decreases in amount as we age. Contributing to this decline with unprotected sun exposure will just make it happen all the faster. Both UVA and UVB rays can potentially cause direct damage to the DNA in your skin cells as well. This damage is what leads to replication issues in the skin that eventually cause cancer. As a result, we must strongly recommend never forgetting to wear sunscreen.
Protecting Your Skin
Wearing sunscreen or another product offering SPF is the only reliable way to truly protect your skin. Yes, your skin is technically protecting your body while your natural oils are trying to protect your skin, but they aren’t quite up to the job. Neither offers your skin the broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays that is necessary to minimize sun damage. Without that, your skin is simply sitting there soaking up the UV rays. We recommend favoring products with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect your skin properly. You can keep going as high as 80 or more, but SPF begins to give diminishing returns past around 30 most of the time. Truly high numbers don’t end up giving you as much protection as they lead you to believe. Additionally, you’ll likely want to take a close look at the active ingredients of any product that you buy. Try to find ones that include zinc oxide in their active ingredients list. These sunscreens are physical blockers that reflect UV rays rather than absorbing them instead of your skin. That makes them even more effective.
Providing your skin with appropriate sun protection is necessary for long term care. Your skin can handle some sun exposure, but the more that you subject your skin to without protection the more damage that will slowly build up in it until it becomes highly evident past a certain age. Protecting your skin from sun exposure by wearing sunscreen, minimizing the time you spend outdoors, and not sitting in the sunlight by large windows will pay off eventually. You’ll thank yourself for the effort later.