Sun Care 101

Between days spent lounging by the pool, outdoor concerts, hiking trails and other summer activities, time is limited—which is why it’s vital you make the most of every moment! Just don’t forget to focus on your skin. Sun exposure can leave you vulnerable to less-than-desirable outcomes like burns and the expediting of the visible signs of aging. To look and feel your best this season, always protect your skin from harsh summer rays.

Reasons to Stay Sun Safe

It’s important to spend time outside. Not only is it fun to do, but embracing nature is actually good for you. Sunshine can boost your mood, increase energy levels and benefit bone health. These perks have to do with vitamin D, which the body produces whenever you are out in the sun. (No wonder vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.”) Though there are many reasons to love being outdoors, safety should always be your top priority.

Healthy skin can become damaged if there’s too much exposure to ultraviolet radiation, or UV rays. This is a form of energy that comes from both natural sources (like the sun) and artificial sources (like a tanning bed). Overexposure to these potentially harmful rays can lead to issues like burned skin.

If that wasn’t enough, the sun can also make you look older than you actually are. (Which no one wants!) A research study on the effects of the sun found that UV exposure was responsible for at least 80% of visible facial aging. Taking care of your skin each and every time you leave the house (by slathering on sunscreen or using another sun safe product) is a must if you want to remain healthy, keep your skin vibrant and maintain a youthful appearance.

What are UVA and UVB Rays?

There are multiple types of UV rays, with most common being UVA and UVB—and they do not affect the skin in the same way. Most of the UV rays that reach the earth are considered UVA rays, which are also known as long-wave ultraviolet A. This type can penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and cause wrinkles and other signs of aging. They have also been linked to the development of certain types of skin cancer. In fact, according to the American Cancer Society, tanning beds have been found to increase the risk of skin cancer as they emit high amounts of UVA rays.

Then there are UVB rays, which are referred to as short-wave ultraviolet B. These have a little more energy than UVA rays and cause damage to the uppermost layers of the skin. Of course, this can lead to the most common symptom of sun exposure: the dreaded sunburn. When the skin becomes burned, it causes symptoms like discomfort, pain, blistering and even peeling to take place. Ouch! If that wasn’t enough, UVB rays are also the reason most types of skin cancer develop, according to the American Cancer Society.

How to Find Sun Protection That Works

The best way to prevent skin damage is to focus on proper protection. One way to do that is to carefully read and understand sunscreen labels. While you may normally purchase whatever sunscreen has the highest SPF, this is a mistake. SPF is an important indicator of UVB ray protection, but you want to be safe from both UVA and UVB rays. The solution? Always look for the words broad spectrum. It gives your skin much needed protection against both types. 

It’s also important to choose sun-protecting products that contain antioxidants. Not only do they increase effectiveness but antioxidants provide an additional barrier between your skin and the sun. They are even thought to improve the body’s natural immunity to sun damage. One example is Everybody Loves the Sunshine with Zinc. This facial oil contains antioxidants and uncoated zinc oxide to improve skins natural defenses against the sun, hydrate and protect skin from UV-related damage. Use this under your favorite sunscreen.

Something else to be mindful of is the type of sunscreen you select. There are both physical and chemical sunscreens on the market. Physical sunscreens have active mineral ingredients that sit on top of the skin to block or deflect UV rays while chemical formulas are made up of carbon-based compounds. These compounds create a chemical reaction that transforms UV rays into heat before releasing that heat away from the surface of the skin. Not sure what to choose? A physical sunscreen (like the Surf Mud Pro Stick that boasts waterproof protection and an SPF 50) provides both UVA and UVB protection, works well on sensitive skin, does not clog pores and lasts longer than chemical alternatives.

Treat your skin this season. With a little knowledge and know-how, you can achieve a healthy, radiant complexion and avoid those pesky summer sunburns once and for all.