Is Your Sunscreen Protecting Your Skin Enough?

Is Your Sunscreen Protecting Your Skin Enough?

Sunscreen is a controversial subject for some reason, but a topic that has dermatologists and other health care providers all on the same page. The sun is the greatest threat to your skin's health and youthfulness. While not all sunscreens are created equal, using none at all is the best way to prematurely age your skin and open you up to the risk of skin cancer. However, there are people that simply refuse to wear it. For them, there are some skincare products that can reverse some of the damage they have done to themselves. For instance, Calysta Labs Illuminating Anti-Aging Serum and Restorative Foaming Cleaner can help. The DMAE, niacinamide, and retinol found in the ingredient lists of these products are three of the most well recognized compounds for reducing the impact of the sun's radiation on your face.

Sunburn actually damages DNA. Wearing sunblock post sunburn and staying in the shade will allow your skin to heal as much as it can. Sunburn also causes the skin to dry out. This can be countered by exfoliating the dry, dead, top layer of skin cells, using a good moisturizer and drinking plenty of water. Wrinkles, sun and age spots are three of the most common impacts of sun on the skin. Luckily, you can counter these undesirable effects with the right skin care regimen. (Source). However, even the best of what science has to offer in skincare cannot replace the value of using daily sunscreen.

Debunking Sunscreen Myths

In labs and in studies using live subjects, there is ‘overwhelming evidence that sunscreens are safe and effective. Reader's Digest recently cataloged the biggest myths about sunscreen- misinformation that people believe that have dermatologists and other healthcare professionals shaking their heads. We feel it is important to participate in debunking some of these myths and to encourage all of our readers and product users to use sunscreen religiously. In line with this, here are a few facts that many people do not know:
  • Dark skin needs sunscreen too.
  • Sunscreen is needed on the entire body, not only the face.
  • SPF 15 is not enough for good sun protection, although it helps with incidental exposure.
  • You can get enough vitamin D through incidental sun exposure and through your diet and vitamin supplements.
  • Sunscreen is only need all day, not only during peak tanning hours.
  • Not all sunscreen contains allergens and irritants.
  • Skin cancer is a big deal and can be very deadly.
  • The chemicals in sunscreens and sunblocks do not make them more dangerous than not wearing them.

The Melanoma Research Foundation has looked closely at the science behind the idea that sunscreen contributes to skin cancer, and other safety claims. In labs and in studies using live subjects, there is ‘overwhelming evidence that sunscreens are safe and effective.' There is not any published, peer reviewed, data or research that demonstrates otherwise and nothing that shows any ‘adverse health effects on humans from the regular use of sunscreen.'

The Damage the Sun Causes

The damage to your skin begins after very brief unprotected exposure to the sun, usually just a few minutes. The UV radiation that people are exposed to have two spectrums: UVA and UVB. UVB has a shorter wavelength and doesn't penetrate deeply into the skin, but does cause significant damage to the DNA. This is what causes most sunburn and skin cancer. UVA, on the other hand, penetrates deep into the skin, producing free radicals that cause premature aging and immune issues. (Source). The damage to your skin begins after very brief unprotected exposure to the sun, usually just a few minutes. Day to day life that takes us outside tends to add up to long hours in the sun, and being indoors doesn't necessarily protect you. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, even though glass will block most of the sun's UVB rays, its UVA rays can pass through. UVA causes skin aging and is a major contributor to skin cancer. This means that damage to the skin can accumulate while you are in a car, or any room with windows unless you have applied a special full spectrum blocking film to the glass in your car and house. Infrared A (IRA) radiation, which also comes from the sun, also ages your skin and may contribute to skin cancers. Sunscreen, tightly knit fabric, wide brimmed hats and other dermatologist recommended protection can also provide relief from IRA.

The Right Kind of Sunscreen

The term SPF that appears on sunscreen labels stands for Sun Protection Factor, but it is really a sunburn protection factor. Not all sunscreen is created equal, however. The sunscreen in makeup and moisturizers that you apply to your face on a daily basis may or may not be enough to protect the most sensitive skin on your face - but even the best of those do not protect the rest of your skin. That said, your face might be too sensitive for the sunscreen that you would otherwise safely apply to the rest of your body. This likely means that you need to keep a couple of different sunscreens on hand, or shop for one that is exceptionally gentle to your skin, less likely to sting and irritate your eyes. Sunscreen is devised to react to the sun in one of two ways: physically (which stops UV rays from being absorbed by your skin) or chemically (which destroys already absorbed UV rays). (Source). In order to get the protection you need to save your skin from the harmful effects of the sun, according to Scientific American, you need much more than just SPF: The term SPF that appears on sunscreen labels stands for Sun Protection Factor, but it is really a sunburn protection factor. Products with a higher SPF allow fewer of the photons that produce sunburn to strike the skin. In simple terms, you can view an SPF 10 sunscreen as allowing 10 out of every 100 photons to reach the skin and an SPF 20 product as allowing only 5 out of every 100 photons to reach the skin. Because sunburn is primarily a UVB effect, it is possible for a sunscreen product to deliver high SPF while allowing a significant percentage of the incident UVA photons to reach the skin. To deliver true broad spectrum protection, products must also block a significant fraction of the UVA photons. In the U.S. market, this requires that the products contain significant levels of zinc oxide, avobenzone or titanium dioxide. Thus, the right combination of sun protection ingredients are enough to protect your skin if they are used every day. The great news is that this makes the other skincare products you use even more effective in keeping your skin youthful and healthy.