SPF & Why It’s Your Anti-Aging Best Friend
July 29th, 2020
Let’s talk about the sun…. Yes, you know, that glorious ball of heat in the sky that makes your skin the perfect golden shade for the summertime?! While the sun triggers the body to produce vitamin D, most of the time, it can do more harm than good.
The sun’s rays
The sun gives off ultraviolet rays. These are what we call UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are the longer waves, which means they penetrate the skin deeper. These rays cause aging in the skin. UVB rays have shorter wavelengths and cause burning in the skin. There are about 500 times more UVA rays in sunlight than UVB rays! (Keep this information in the back of your mind as I continue.)
Now let’s talk about factors of aging…
When it comes to aging there are intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic, or internal, factors are the ones we can’t control… like genetics. Everyone’s bodies are different, which means our cells regenerate and heal differently. Extrinsic, or external, factors are ones we can control. These are what I like to call environmental factors (which cause premature aging!) These could be sun exposure (ahem, UVA rays), diet, smoking and drinking, and repetitive facial expressions.
Now that you know the different types of aging… I can give you some facts that will blow your mind. Your genetics only play a small role in your aging compared to external factors.
Just 20% of aging is from your internal factors and a whopping 80% comes from external factors!
This means that while we can’t control some of the aging process… but most of it is controllable AND preventable!
The effects of a sunburn
When you get a sunburn, it is because you have been exposed to ultraviolet rays without protection for way too long. So what happens in your skin when you get burned? Mutations to your DNA occur and damage your skin cells. Your body does the best it can to heal your skin, but some cells still end up with mutations and that is when cancer becomes a risk. These mutated cells are called free radicals. Free radicals not only put you at risk for cancer, but they also increase your chances of aging. Just like they attack your DNA, they also attack your collagen production. Collagen is the firming agent in your skin that keeps the wrinkles away. So even after just one sunburn, you have exposed your body to much more than you’d expect!
The real risk: Skin Cancer
There are 3 main types of skin cancer. Basal and Squamous cell carcinoma are two milder, but most common types. Left untreated, these cancers can develop into melanoma. Melanoma is the most severe type of skin cancer due to its ability to spread quickly.
Here’s some scary facts that will encourage you to never skip the sunscreen:
- The 2 main causes of skin cancer are the sun’s harmful UV rays & tanning beds
- An estimated 196,060 cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2020
- Your risk for melanoma doubles if you’ve had 5 or more sunburns
- 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70
- When detected early the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99%
If you’ve read this far, you might be saying, “Alright, Grace, I’m sold. I’m going to wear sunscreen. Every day. What kind should I buy?”
A sunscreen that is higher than 30 SPF and broad-spectrum is the best option.
The number of SPF is the amount of sun the sunscreen blocks your skin from NOT how long you can wear it before reapplying. 30 SPF blocks about 97% of sun. Higher numbers can block slightly more sun, but no sunscreen can block the sun 100%.
SPF Best Practices:
- Wear every day as UV-rays are harmful all year round and emit through clouds, too!
- Apply 15 mins before going outside
- Apply every 2 hours or after swimming and sweating!