After a slow, freezing winter, it’s time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. As summer rapidly approaches, all kinds of skin becomes exposed to the sun and its ultraviolet rays. Protecting the skin is extremely important, as it protects you from those harmful sun rays and prevents potentially lethal diseases. However, not just babies and the elderly need to protect their skin, everyone does. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, every single person has the same risk of developing skin cancer, regardless of age, gender or race. Similarly, it is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. By not wearing sunscreen, the chances of getting skin cancer undoubtedly increase. Also, the ozone layer is depleting due to excessive amounts of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.
The ozone layer is known as “nature’s sunscreen,” as it absorbs those dangerous UV sun rays and is crucial to shielding our skin. As this layer becomes thinner, your skin needs extra protection.
Since all of this information can be overwhelming and maybe a little scary, there are methods of choosing the right sunscreen to ensure complete coverage. The AAD always recommends a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays cause more damage, as they penetrate deep into the skin and are responsible for long-term skin damage, aging and wrinkles. UVB rays, on the other hand, turn that beautiful skin as red as a lobster. Ouch! So make sure the sunscreen you buy provides a barrier against UVA and UVB rays, is at least SPF 30 and is water resistant. A sunscreen with SPF 30 blocks 97 percent of UV rays, while sunscreens with a higher SPF block just a little more.
A common question that arises is, when should I wear sunscreen? The answer to that is simply any time you’re outside. The sun shines down year-round. Even on cloudy or overcast days, up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can peek through the sky and seep into the skin. In fact, snowy, sandy and wet conditions increase the need for sunscreen because of the way the sun’s rays reflect off of them. Keep that in mind next time you go outside during a snow day, because even if the sun isn’t beating down, it’s still causing harm. In addition, you should apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before going outdoors, and reapply approximately every two hours. Add another coat after swimming or sweating.
When it comes to the effectiveness of sunscreens, spray bottles are still debatable. It’s challenging to know how much sunscreen you’ve actually used, resulting in inadequate coverage. The formula in spray sunscreen itself works perfectly fine, it’s the application process that’s questionable. Just remember to spray a fair amount and rub it in to ensure protection.
As the summer season kicks into full gear, never forget to put on sunscreen! The ozone layer continues to deteriorate, and that won’t stop the dangerous UV rays from severely damaging your skin. So don’t risk it and always use sunscreen.