Why UV Rays Matter: Unraveling the Importance of Sunscreen

80% of the Visible Signs of Aging are Due to UV

The sun emits two types of harmful UV rays that reach our skin: UVA and UVB. UVA rays penetrate deeply into the skin, causing premature aging, wrinkles, and reduced skin elasticity. On the other hand, UVB rays are responsible for causing sunburns and contributing to the development of skin cancer.

The Ultraviolet Index (UVI) measures the intensity of ultraviolet (UV) radiation at a particular time of day in a given location. When the UV index is higher, skin cells have the potential to be damaged faster. Areas of high elevation (hello, Colorado) have a higher UV index even when there are cooler temperatures. Ozone levels also affect the UVI. When the UV index is high, most people will burn after only 8-10 minutes of sun exposure without sunscreen, regardless of Fitzpatrick type. 

Fitzpatrick Skin Scale

The World Health Organization (WHO) categorizes the Ultraviolet Index into the following groups:

  • UVI 0-2: You can safely enjoy being outside!
  • UVI 3-7: Seek shade during midday hours! Slip on a shirt, slap on sunscreen, slap on a hat.
  • UVI 8+: Avoid being outdoors during midday hours! Make sure to seek shade, and a shirt, sunscreen, and hat are a must. 

Unfortunately, SPF Does Not Block 100% of UV Rays. When UV radiation levels are higher, the percentage of UV rays that penetrate past our SPF increases. This is why we tend to avoid skin treatments like deeper chemical peels in the summer because it’s too difficult to avoid UV exposure. 

You can find the local UV Index on a weather app on your phone.

Sunscreen is Your First Line of Defense against the  Damaging Effects of the Sun

Regular use of sunscreen helps with the following:

  • Reducing the risk of skin cancer. Sunscreen acts as a barrier, preventing UV rays from damaging the DNA in skin cells, and defends against the onset of cancerous growth.
  • Preventing premature aging. Sunscreen shields the skin from UVA rays, the culprits behind premature aging, including wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots. By using sunscreen daily, you can keep your skin looking youthful for longer.
  • Sunburn Prevention. Sunburns are not only painful but also indicate significant skin damage. Sunscreen with a high SPF value shields your skin from UVB rays, effectively preventing sunburns.
  • Decreasing the risk of sunspots (hyperpigmentation). Sunscreen helps prevent dark spots and uneven skin tone, which often arise after prolonged sun exposure.

Types of SPF

There are two types of sunscreen: chemical SPF and mineral SPF.

Chemical sunscreens are made using synthetic compounds like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octocrylene, and homosalate. These sunscreens work by absorbing UV rays and converting them into heat, which is then released from the skin.

Advantages of Chemical SPF:

  • Easy Application: Chemical sunscreens tend to be thinner and easier to spread on the skin, making them more convenient for daily use.
  • Absorbs Quickly: These sunscreens are quickly absorbed by the skin, leaving behind little to no visible residue.
  • Broader Spectrum Protection: Many chemical sunscreens offer broad-spectrum protection, safeguarding against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Better for Outdoor Activities: Chemical sunscreens are more water-resistant, making them ideal for outdoor activities or swimming.

Mineral sunscreens, also known as physical or natural sunscreens, employ mineral ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to create a protective barrier on the skin's surface. This barrier reflects UV rays away from the skin.

Advantages of Mineral SPF:

  • Gentle on Sensitive Skin: Mineral sunscreens are less likely to cause skin irritation, making them an excellent choice for individuals with sensitive or reactive skin.
  • Immediate Effectiveness: Unlike chemical sunscreens that require time to absorb into the skin, mineral sunscreens start working as soon as they are applied.
  • Long Shelf Life: Mineral sunscreens tend to have a longer shelf life since their mineral ingredients are more stable than the chemical components in traditional sunscreens.
  • Eco-Friendly: Mineral sunscreens are considered reef-safe and environmentally friendly since they don't contain chemicals that are harmful to marine life.

Choosing the Right SPF

Selecting the right SPF for your skin type and daily activities is crucial for effective protection. Here are some tips to help you make the best choice:

  • SPF Value: Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with at least SPF 30, providing adequate protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Skin Type: If you have sensitive skin or are prone to allergies, mineral sunscreen might be the better option. For oily or acne-prone skin, consider non-comedogenic formulas.
  • Water Resistance: If you plan to be in the water or sweat heavily, opt for a water-resistant sunscreen, especially during outdoor activities.
  • Broad-Spectrum Protection: Ensure your chosen sunscreen offers broad-spectrum protection to guard against UVA and UVB rays effectively.

You need to reapply sunscreen and the SPF in your makeup is not enough, especially in Colorado! Check out our staff’s favorite sunscreens.

Our favorite SPF

In the quest for healthy and radiant skin, the significance of using sunscreen cannot be overstated. Whether you opt for chemical or mineral SPF, the ultimate goal is to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun's rays. Embrace the daily ritual of applying sunscreen and make it an indispensable part of your skincare routine. By doing so, you can still enjoy the sun while keeping your skin safe and sound for years to come. Use other tools like clothing, hats, sunglasses, and shade to protect your skin! 

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