The Secret Of Youth
The Secret Of Youth
Summer is here and I am sure you couldn’t be more excited to quickly pack your stuff and head for warm and sunny paradises! But let me see…I think you packed too quickly; your skin will not be the same happy as you. For this summer I want you to promise to yourself one thing: “I will not forget, neglect or be bored to put my sunscreen”. I can completely understand any excuse as I used to hate sunscreens myself; I hated this white, greasy thing that was hindering my tan and needed to be applied and re-applied. Scientific facts changed my mind, though. Ozone is depleting and it was estimated that approximately one out of five Americans are getting skin cancer due to unprotected exposure to solar radiation. Isn’t that scary enough?
How is the sun damaging your skin?
There are two types of harmful radiation emitted by the sun, namely UVB and UVA and they are both responsible for skin cancer.
UVB which stands for “Ultraviolet B” rays damages the upper layers of the skin and is mostly associated with sunburns. Since we can see its reddening and painful effects very soon after our exposure, we have attached more importance to it.
UVA, on the other hand, stands for “Ultraviolet A” radiation and is less intense than UVB. However, it travels through deeper layers of the skin, damages its natural collagen and elastin, causing wrinkles and premature ageing. UVA can also penetrate through clouds and glasses so keep in mind that you may be exposed even when you are just working in your office.
There is no secret in keeping your skin youthful, many skin problems may caused by sunlight. So put your sunscreen on, this is it!
How do sunscreens work?
Depending on their active ingredients, they either scatter the light and reflect it away from your skin (e.g. titanium dioxide, zinc dioxide), or they absorb the rays before reaching your skin (e.g. dioxybenzone, avobenzone).
What are the SPF and PA factors?
Although they might have confused you, they are pretty simple to understand. SPF and PA are two factors that measure how much protection you are getting from sun radiation.
SPF (Sun Protection Factor) refers to protection from UVB rays and represents the number of times longer you can stay out in the sun without burning. For example, if you would be getting a sunburn after 10 min of staying in the sun unprotected but you wear a sunscreen with SPF 30, you will not burn for 300 min. SPF is highly dependent on your skin type and is the only rating system approved by the FDA.
PA (Protection grade from UVA) is a rating system mostly prevalent in Asian countries and is based on the Persistent Pigment Darkening (PPD) reaction at 2-4 hours of sun exposure. It is ranked from “+” to “+++”, with more “+” signs indicating better protection from UVA.
How to pick the most suitable sunscreen for your skin?
In general, dermatologists recommend that we use sunscreens with SPF 30 or above and in case there is no indication of PA factor, to look for labels like “broad spectrum”/ “full spectrum”, since those are covering both UVA and UVB rays. If you have sensitive skin, look for claims such as hypoallergenic/low irritant, while if you are prone to acne go for “non-comedogenic” ones that don’t clog your pores. Moreover, if your skin tends to get dry you can search for sunscreens that include hydrating ingredients such as aloe or glycerin, while if you have oily skin you should better go for gels or oil-free formulas.
How should you apply the sunscreen?
Ok! So you chose the right sunscreen! Is that enough? If you follow the following 7 tips it will be.
1. Apply your sunscreen at least 20 min before you go outside. Most sunscreens are based on substances that need to be well absorbed by your skin in order to be active.
2. Apply an adequate quantity for sufficient, even coverage. Approximately 1 shot-glass should be applied to your body, adjusted, of course, to your body’s surface.
3. If you wear a spray sunscreen make sure you apply it evenly, using your palms.
4. Do not put extensive pressure during the application of the products; recent researches showed that it has a worsening effect on the effectiveness of some sunscreen filters.
5. Do not forget your lips! Use a lip balm or lipstick with SPF > 30.
6. Apply, re-apply and re-apply at least every 2 hours or after coming out of the sea/pool, even if your sunscreen has a big SPF and is water-resistant.
7. Do not use a sunscreen three years after its opening or after the expiration date; it will not be effective anymore!