Sunscreen, Why Should you Wear it and What Type?
Last updated 06/30/2022
Well, I can think of three important conditions that I want to avoid. Certainly, as I get older, I regret being in the sun without protecting my skin. Sunscreen, why?
Sunscreen is the main protection you have against the sun’s damaging UV rays. It works differently depending on the type you choose. So, this lotion prevents harmful sunlight from penetrating into your skin layers.
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What is Sunscreen?
However, when applied as directed it has been proven to reduce your chance of skin cancers and skin pre-cancers. The Skin Cancer Foundation states regular daily use of SPF 15 sunscreen can lower your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
This is around 40 percent. And your risk for melanoma is lowered about 50 percent. Sunscreens also assist in preventing premature skin aging from the sun. This includes, wrinkles, sagging and age spots.
Sunscreen Why History
Sunscreen was created about 1938 by Australian chemist H.A. Milton Blake, and the discovery of SPF by Franz Greiter came later. Further pharmacist Benjamin Green in 1944 combined cocoa butter and red veterinary petroleum to protect his skin from the sun. He later branded this Coppertone Suntan Cream.
Other names for sunscreens are sun blocks or suntan lotions. And these have been available in a variety of forms. For example, sunscreen comes in cream, spray, gel, stick, and even powder.
This topical product can be applied to your skin for protection from the harsh effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. But before the invention, early civilizations made use of plant products. For instance, olive oil, jasmine, rice, or Zinc oxide formed into a paste to protect their skin from sun rays.
5 Facts about Sunscreen
Broad Spectrum Recommended
There are a variety of sunscreens that either have UVA or UVB protection. So, you would be safer in the sun if you chose a wide spectrum sunscreen that protects you against both UVA and UVB rays.
Only Water Resistant
Not for Babies
Sprays Least Effective
According to the FDA spray on sunscreen is not the best form. It is harder to apply the correct amount.
Sunscreen Required for Everyone
5 W’s (&H) of Sunscreen
Who – Each individual under the sun.
What – Broad spectrum SPF 15 or above, for a day outside SPF 30 or above.
When – Daily, 30 minutes before going outside. And every two hours reapply.
Where – All exposed areas of your skin.
How – Apply 1 ounce (that is a shot glass full) for each complete body application.
Why – To lower your chances for skin damage and skin cancer.
Who Should Apply Sunscreen?
In short, we all need to. Men, women and children more than 6 months of age should apply sunscreen daily. This includes all skin tones. It doesn’t matter whether you burn or not your skin is damaged by sun exposure throughout your lifetime.
The only exception is babies under the age of 6 months. Their skin is extremely sensitive. Avoid the sun; seek shade and sun protective clothing is the best steps to keep infants safe.
Reasons for Wearing Sunscreen
- Reduce the Signs of Aging
- Limits Age Spots
Sun exposure can cause age spots (sunspots or liver spots). These culprits can make you look older. That is to say, this is hyperpigmentation of the skin. As a result, flat lesions on the skin can be discolored or different shades of brown.
Usual areas for age spots:
- Back of the hands
- Protection From Sunburn
No one wants a sunburn (I speak from experience). With repeated sun exposure and not applying your sunscreen you will see age spots and skin damage. In addition, this increases your risk for developing skin cancer. Sunburns usually take a couple days or more to heal. Most importantly, wear your sunscreen, even on cooler, cloudy days.
- Reduce Your Risk for Skin Cancer
Wearing your sunscreen is one of the best ways to reduce your risk for skin cancer. Applying broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least 15 SPF is what the CDC advices. But a higher number gives you better UV protection.
Reapply sunscreen for all-day protection:
- If you are in the sun for more than 2 hours
- After swimming or sweating
- When you towel off
- Avoid Broken Blood Vessels
Also called telangiectasia, UV rays can damage the skin's blood vessel walls. As a result, this causes them to thin. Further, this thinning of blood vessels leaves the development of bruising or bleeding.
How Sunscreen Works
Sunscreen contains active ingredients that help filter the sun’s harmful rays from reaching your skin.
Types of Sunscreen
There are many sunscreen products to pick from. The Skin Cancer Foundation says the best sunscreen is one you’ll remember to use. That is to say, as long as it provides safe and effective protection. In other words, apply an SPF of 15 or higher.
Physical (Mineral) Sunscreen
These contain the minerals titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Physical sunscreens block and scatter UV rays so they can’t penetrate your skin.
Chemical sunscreens can include ingredients like: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homesalate and octinoxate.
Sunscreen Safety Concerns
Physical sunscreens are less likely to cause skin irritation. However, both kinds have test results of safe and effective. Some even combine the ingredients from both.
All active ingredients in sunscreen come from chemicals. You may think physical sunscreen s are more “natural” or probably “organic”, however, they are inorganic mineral compounds. The type of sunscreens many call “chemical” are actually “UV organic filters.”
There is another alternative to sunscreens. You could go for a more natural option. After all this is what people did before the invention of sunscreen.
Are you concerned about your health or maybe the planet as a whole? Natural sunscreens can be safe for both. These don’t use harsh chemicals because they are mineral-based and gentle on sensitive skin.
Not saying that chemical sunscreens are bad. But if you have a sunscreen allergy or skin conditions like rosacea or eczema you might consider giving natural a shot. These won’t bother your skin as much as chemical versions.
Natural SPFs are typically called reef-safe sunscreens because they don’t include potentially harmful ingredients like oxybenzone. This is a UV-blocking chemical known to affect marine life.
However, the term “natural” can be difficult to define. These products are not regulated by the FDA. So, be sure to read the label and ensure you are avoiding chemicals or irritants that bother you.
What is SPF?
SPF refers to Sun Protection Factor. The number gives you the amount of time it takes until the sun’s UVB rays redden your skin. To sum up, you apply the sunscreen exactly as stated versus going without sunscreen. For example, an SPF 30 product used correctly would take you 30 times longer to burn compared to no sunscreen used.
Which SPF for You?
Someone who stays inside most of the day with short trips in the sun can apply at least SPF 15. However, if you’re outdoors a lot, especially at peak sun times, you need SPF 30 or more, water-resistant sunscreen.
No matter which SPF, reapplication is important every two hours. In addition, sunscreen needs to be reapplied right away after swimming or sweating.
Does Sunscreen Expire?
Yes, sunscreen does have an expiration date. The FDA requires that sunscreen keep its original strength for a minimum of three years. If your sunscreen has changed color, consistency and its effect these are signs it has expired. However, most sunscreens these days have an expiration date right on the container.
Wrapping it up
Sunscreen works to filter out harmful UV rays when you apply it to your skin and reapply as directed. Most importantly, it reduces your risk for sun damage and skin cancer. So, don’t forget to always use your sunscreen when heading outdoors. Have fun and be sun safe!
Mary is the founder of All About Our Skin. Former esthetician and CPC. Enjoys researching skincare and has been studying our skin for the past fifteen years.
https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-prevention/sun-protection/sunscreen/ accessed 06/25/2022
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-science-of-sunscreen# accessed 06/25/2022
https://www.raywardapparel.com/history-of-sunscreen-and-sun-protection/ accessed 06/25/2022
https://bettermindbodysoul.com/what-are-natural-sunscreens-and-do-they-work/ accessed 06/25/2022