The most obvious result of a day in the sun can be seen almost overnight – your skin will be a shade or two darker. But a layer of tan isn’t the only damage caused by the sun’s harsh rays. The longer your skin is exposed to the sun, the more the collagen and elastin in the deeper layers are broken down, giving less support to the underlying muscles and the skin’s surface. The skin tries to protect itself from the damage, in turn thickening as a means of regeneration. This response mechanism can start happening within 12 weeks of persistent exposure. That’s why it makes sense to start using skin protection early on in life and no matter what season of the year it is. Some studies suggest that maximum skin damage occurs in the 18 to 20 years of age.
Sunscreen Facts vs Myths
Now you already know the importance of sunscreens in any skin protection regimen. But are you really clear on what sunscreens can and can’t do? Maybe not. Here is been separate sunscreen fact from fiction.
Myth 1: Sunscreen is all you need to stay safe.
Reality: “Sunscreen is only one part of the sun- protection picture” just slathering it on and doing nothing else isn’t going to cut it because, even with sunscreen, there’s still up to a 50 percent risk that you’ll burn. You also need to seek shade between 10 AM and 4 PM when sunlight is strongest; cover up with clothing, a broad-brimmed hat or other forms of headgear and UV-blocking sunglasses; do regular skin self- exams; and get a professional skin evaluation annually.
Myth 2: SPF measures levels of protection against both UVB and UVA rays.
Reality: The SPF (sun protection factor) measures only the level of protection against UVB rays. But several of the 16 active ingredients approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in sunscreens also block or absorb UVA rays. Ingredients include: avobenzone, octocrylene, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide, as well as the recently approved MexorylSX. Make sure one of these is in your sunscreen, or look for products labelled “broad spectrum,” which means they protect against UVB and UVA rays.
Myth 3: Some sunscreens can protect all day.
Reality: “Regardless of the SPF or what the label says, sunscreens must be reapplied every two hours,” “The active ingredients in most products begin to break down when exposed to the sun.” Only physical blockers like zinc oxide stay potent after two hours, but not all sunscreens are made with these ingredients.