Hot tips on not burning your skin and avoiding premature aging through sun protection. Sit back as we take you on a journey through SPF, UV, and recommended products.
As the weather grows colder and the grasp of Winter tightens around me, I reminisce on my year whilst sipping a hot eggnog latte and thinking about the forthcoming snow. Chill is omnipresent in the crisp, harsh wind but I made sure to apply my sunscreen before stepping out. Magic can be found in the holiday season when you dig a little beneath the consumerism of it all, but also shady witchcraft to be found in the star in the sky that does permanent damage to my skin. Lucky for us, scientists sacrificed their time to conduct studies that help us look younger and protect us from troublesome UV rays.
SPF by the numbers
Sun protection factor (if you want to use the scientific term) or super phenomenal face-lift (if you want to be funny) is the measure of protection for time spent in the sun. You’ve probably heard the word factor in that horrid high school math class and are now sweating, but figuring out SPF is easy. The general equation for how much time is allowed for sun exposure equals SPF times minutes it takes you to get a sunburn. For my pale ass skin, it takes around five minutes for me to begin reddening. Once I plug my sun exposure time and SPF 30 into the equation, I find I can spend approximately 150 minutes in the sun before I’m sopping in sunlight.
A broad spectrum sunscreen is vital for those of us who want to age like fine wine. There’s nothing better than knowing you’re going to age like fine wine. Protection on all sunscreen fights against UVB rays, but UVA rays are also covered with Broad Spectrum SPF. Broad spectrum sunscreen protects us from wrinkles and sunburn, so it’s a double whammy. The sunscreens I reach for have it clearly labeled on the front, like this one from Neutrogena.
Protecting yourself from these two UVs is important, but ensure there’s enough SPF to cover your skin. SPF does not increase linearly which makes it a tricky subject to measure. SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays, SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. When you think inversely about this information, worries might seep in.
We think SPF is forbidding all of the sun’s rays from hitting our skin but, in reality, it’s more complex. SPF 15 leaves enough exposure for seven photons to touch you while SPF 50 only lets in two. Photons are a measure of light radiation that you don’t want to touch your skin, aka UV rays. When favoring SPF 15 instead of 50, there’s 250% more sun exposure getting to your “protected skin.” Most dermatologists state you need SPF 15 or higher. I told my dermatologist that I use SPF 50 and she said even better. To sum up SPF in the words of a queen: More is more.
The Colorful Flavors of UV Rays
UVA Rays (long af)
All of the sun’s rays are invisible to the human eye, creating a silent, annoying problem. UVA rays are the longest and most plentiful of UV rays. UVA rays penetrate the skin, going straight to the dermis. Considering everything that comes out of the sun is lawful evil, UVA isn’t an exception. Since these go into the skin’s thickest layer, they can be a huge part of wrinkles and possibly cancer. Glass cannot withstand UVA rays so if you’re near a window at work, regular sunscreen application is still recommended. To stop wrinkles and premature aging, use sunscreen (even indoors)!
UVB Rays (more like UVBae for tanners)
UVBs are the sun’s little shawties, because they’re shorter length UV rays. These don’t penetrate deep into the skin like UVA, instead, they burn your skin. If you look like a lobster after a day at the beach, you have UVB rays to thank for whatever your skin feels on the outside. Burns and discolorations on the surface of your skin are results of UVB. Different factors can either enhance or diminish the impact of a UVB rays, but proper use of sunscreen can revoke these. Harmful contact is minimized with sunscreen, so it’s essential to keep a year-round sunscreen routine.
To stop UVB from touching your beautiful skin, wear extra sun protection clothing and sunscreen from 10-2, at high altitudes, and from April to October. UVB bounces right off of your favorite natural elements such as sand, water, and snow. They also poke through even when it’s cloudy, so protect yourself rain or shine. In this case, sunscreen is a holy grail for those who don’t want to burn (and who really does, amirite?).
UVC Rays (for the handyperson)
While uncommonly talked about, UVC is the deadliest type of UV possible. UVC rays are eaten up by the atmosphere so they’re a minor concern as I post this in December of 2018. Of course, the more greenhouse gasses emitted, the more likely we are to come in contact with UVC. These are the shortest rays coming from the sun but are sometimes exposed to handypersons. UVC commonly comes out of mercury lamps and a welding torch, so it’s pretty uncommon to see in the average LeCC reader’s life. Most people won’t need to worry about these baddies unless you’re a handyman. If you are a torch welder, let us know in the comments what you use to protect yourself from these uncommon UVs.
#nofilter all-natural or chemical sunscreen????
We don’t have a choice in getting rid of pesky UV rays, but we do have a choice in how to combat them. Let me give it to you straight: there’s not a wrong answer (unless you’re less than six months old then please don’t put on chemical sunscreen). The active ingredient in the type of sunscreen has different methods of preventing sun damage. Both are entirely effective but in different ways so check sunscreen labels to see what the key ingredient is. Natural sunscreen is made with ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, which are mineral derived. These ingredients reflect UV rays off of skin to make a sunshine mirror. On the other hand, chemical sunscreen absorbs UVs so they get sucked up before coming in contact with skin. Chemical sunscreen is like a sponge and natural sunscreen is like a shield.
Sunscreen must be used every day, no matter the season. You read this post: the sun is out to get you. Sorry if I’m the first person to tell you this, but you can thank me later. If it’s standard daylight hours, UV rays will come from any and all angles. It beams through the window at work, through clouds, off sand, off snow, through a thunderstorm, and through your skin, if you don’t use sun protection.
Everyone should put it on in the morning before they leave. The people inside should apply again during lunchtime and people outside should do it every two hours. Also, three out of four people do not apply the proper amount of sunscreen. Yeah, it’s December but a day at the beach needs at least an ounce of sunscreen to cover your body. Currently, though, it is winter, so if you have lots of uncovered skin in this nipping cold, you’ve either watched that Cardi B vine too many times or are going to need a trip to the derm.