Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Skincare Rescue Plan: Sunscreen

Sorry for running a little slow this week.  I was getting up to speed at my new job yesterday!!
Now, as scheduled, the next installment to our skin rescue plan!

 What's So Bad About Sunlight?

Get this straight: sunlight isn't the enemy, the dangerous UV light that comes with the sunlight is the enemy.  The sun actually emits 3 different kinds of bad UV waves.  Twenty minutes of un-screened sunlight a day gives you plenty of Vitamin D (another thing emitted by the sun), but further exposure allows more UV light onto your skin than you want.  As you can see in this light graph, Ultraviolet light is not visible to the human eye.  Because we can't see it, we aren't always aware of its presencs.  We also assumme that because it's cloudy outside, then there must not be much risk for sun damage.  This is a myth.  Keep in mind that you can't see the UV light that damages your skin, and its presence is not indicated by how sunny it is outside.  This is why you need to wear sunscreen every day., even in the snow.  In fact, snow reflects UV light up to your face!  Take precautions no matter the weather.
"UVC is technically the most dangerous, but generally nothing to worry about as it has a wavelength that mostly gets absorbed by the ozone layer."

"UVB also has relatively short wavelengths so it cannot penetrate heavy cloud cover. It is however the main cause of burning and skin cancer, which is why for your overall health it is very important to wear sunscreen in the sun!"

"UVA has wavelengths that are the longest of the three. It penetrates to the deepest layer of the skin, and is primarily responsible for wrinkles and premature aging of the skin. In addition it has been shown that UVA also penetrates a layer of the skin called keratinocytes which are the most abundant in your skin and where most skin cancers are found. There is evidence to suggest that UVA may therefore contribute to the initiation events of cancer in which a cell/small groups of cells acquire mutations causing them to basically 'forget how to die' and proliferate uncontrollably. That's what the bare bones of cancer is. "
I read a trick last week on remembering which light brings which side effect.  You have to pretend that the UV lights are evil Russian villains, and then remember UVB = U Vill Burn!  UVA = U Vill Age!   I won't be forgetting any time soon.  :)

Does Sunscreen Actually Work?
Okay, so first watch this video to see how important sunscreen is in protecting your skin, and there you have it.  Case closed.  All right, not really, but I do 100% recommend checking out that video to see the power of sunscreen's sun blocking strength.

So how do we ensure we're protecting ourselves from the burning and aging properties of sunlight?  It's actually quite important to make sure your sunscreen is stable and able to block the UV waves.  Some aren't formulated well enough are not photostable and just break down in the sun. 

Here's a handy infographic on what the heck SPF means, but here's the low down.  SPF only measures how well a sunscreen protects against UVBNot against UVA!  The UK has adopted an additional measuring system called the star rating system (more stars = better protection), but the FDA has not implemented any system for measuring a sunscreen's UVA protection in America.  (The one time I actually want the FDA to do something...)  What this means is, as you are hunting for your perfect sunscreen, you're going to have to do extra digging to find one that protects against both UVB and UVA.  Perhaps you'll even Google UK sites to access their ratings on sunscreens.

How To Choose The Right Sunscreen
This is the one part of the skincare series I've been dreading, because I am still a newbie at this.  I literally picked my current sunscreen from a list of products approved by people who've researched this topic.  I have yet to gain a firm grasp on researching the efficacy of sunscreens myself.  I know it involves a lot of ingredient checking and then matching the ingredients with their purpose to see just what you're getting in your product.  Please let me direct you to the posts that helped me the most!

This is the sunscreen I use and recommend: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen.

How Much Sunscreen Should I Wear? 
 Most people don't apply as much sunscreen as they should.  To reiterate what the SPF infographic says, you should apply 1-2 finger-widths worth of sunscreen per zone on your body.  (Scroll down to see the zone descriptions.)  You'll want to apply your sunscreen 30 minutes before entering the sun, then reapply 30 minutes after entering the sun and each time you come out of the water from swimming or each time you towel off.  I know this sounds excessive, especially compared to our own perspectives on sunscreen, but the extra caution is worth it.  Your skin is your largest organ, and it's the one that shows age the soonest.  Protecting it will maintain its health and youth.
Other Tips
After wearing sunscreen during the day, be sure to remove it at night.  

Some folks have been circulating homemade sunscreen recipes, but you really don't have a way to measure the SPF nor UVA blocking properties, do you?  (No, you don't.)  Those things are tested in a lab.  If you use a DIY sunscreen, you will end up with holes in your protection.  See here for more info.

And because I know nothing about richly pigmented skin (aka the darker skin of people of color), allow me to direct you here for more information tailored specifically to POC!  Turns out, thanks to all that melanin, POC suffer less photodamage, but sunscreen is still super important.

There you have it!

The last skincare post will drop next Monday, and it will cover building your own skincare rescue plan.  Since starting this series, I've tried a few new things myself, and I'm really hoping to get some conversation going about this stuff.  I've really enjoyed learning and sharing what I've learned, but I really want to know your thoughts!

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