Sun exposure plays a big part in the skin-aging process. The sun’s rays can be downright dangerous, as 90 percent of all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure. One way to protect your skin from the sun is to avoid it completely. Another, more practical way to protect yourself is to slather on the sunscreen everyday.
Unfortunately, a recent survey conducted by RealSelf found that the majority of women between 18 and 24 weren’t in the habit of putting on sunscreen regularly. About 80 percent of the young women surveyed claimed to only wear sunscreen when at the beach or, worse, to never bother putting on sunscreen. Slightly older women, those between the ages of 25 and 34 were more likely to wear sunscreen daily, as were women between the ages of 35 and 44.
The survey noted that younger women feel less pressure to keep the signs of aging off of their face, with just over 15 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 24 saying that they felt pressure to look younger. 88 percent of women between 18 and 24 stated that they didn’t buy or use anti-aging products.
It can be easy to have a cavalier attitude about aging and sun exposure when you’re young, as the impact from years of sun exposure has yet to appear. While you might not see lines or wrinkles on your face just yet, it’s still important to start wearing sunscreen now. A little sun protection now will go a long way when it comes to the signs of aging.
Picking Your Sunscreen
Sunscreens come in a range of different formulas, so it can be difficult to decide which is the best for you. It’s a good idea to look for a product that protects against both UVA rays and UVB rays. UVA rays cause signs of aging on your skin, such as wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. UVB rays are responsible for sunburns. Both play a part in increasing your risk for skin cancer.
A sunscreen that protects against both types of rays will be labeled broad spectrum. Usually, a broad spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of 15 is sufficient for everyday use, when you’ll only be in the sun for a few minutes at a time, such as on the way to your car or the train, or on your way into the office. When you’ll be outside for longer periods of time, it might be a good idea to look for a stronger sunscreen, such as one made for use on the beach or one that describes itself as water resistant.
Making Sense of SPF
SPF can be confusing for many people. An SPF 50 or 100 seems like it would offer significantly more protection than an SPF of 15, for example. In reality, an SPF of 15 can block out about 93 percent of the sun’s rays while an SPF of 50 can block out about 98 percent. If you’re particularly sensitive to the sun or have a family history of skin cancer, it might be worth it to choose the SPF 50 for the 5 percent extra sun protection it offers.
Using the Sunscreen
Sunscreen isn’t a one and done proposition. You can’t simply put it on at the beginning of the day and expect it to last all day, especially if you’ll be outside for longer periods of time or engaged in a lot of physical activity. When you’re outdoors all day, a good rule of thumb to follow is to re-apply your sunscreen every two hours.
If you’re using an adequate amount of sunscreen, a bottle shouldn’t last you very long. You should aim to use about an ounce every time you put it on. That means if you have an 8-ounce bottle and you’re outdoors for eight hours a day for two days, you should go through the entire bottle in those two days.
Your face might not yet show any signs of aging and getting older might be the furthest thing from your mind. But it’s never too early or too late to take the steps to protect your skin from sun damage. To learn more about the importance of sunscreen and the effects of aging on your skin, contact Dr. JessicaKulak, a skincare specialist, at the Naderi Center in Virginia and Maryland. To schedule an appointment, call (703) 481-0002 in Virginia or (301) 222-2020 in Maryland.