Okay. So here’s the deal.
We’ve all heard about how sunscreen is oh so important. But no one really talks about exactly why - or what the consequences of not wearing one are.
Let me break down the science of skin & sunscreen for you all.
Firstly, it’s important to note that our skin is our body’s largest organ. As such, it’s important that we take care of it. However, as indicated by Wilson, Moon & Armstrong (2012),
imbalances can lead to multiple problems - the most serious being life-threatening cancers; additionally, wrinkles, hair loss, rashes and disorders in immune regulation can also occur. In order to understand the importance of sunscreen, it's important to understand UV radiation furst. There are 3 types of UV radiation: UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC doesn't really impact us too much, because its rays are blocked by the ozone layer and as a result, don't really reach the earth's surface. However, UVA and UVB are both harmful to us. These wavelengths penetrate into the layers of human skin - imagine how harmful that is for you!
UVA and UVB therapy have been proven to increase the risk of melanoma - the most serious form of skin cancer (stay away from tanning beds!).
So how exactly does sunscreen protect our skin?
Sunscreens literally create a barrier on our skin. SPF (which stands for sun protection factor) is a measure of UVB absorption. So the higher the SPF - the better. For instance, a sunscreen with SPF 50 will protect you much more than a sunscreen with SPF 15.
When a sunscreen has a broad-spectrum label on it, that means it protects you from both UVA and UVB - these are the types of sunscreens you want to buy!). Remember, sunscreen should typically be reapplied no less than every two hours and protective clothing (such as hats, eye protection, long-sleeved shirts) is also great!
One more note: make sure you are wearing a good amount of sunscreen & with an appropriate SPF level… Dr. Swann “emphasized that, in theory, sunscreens with an SPF of 15 block 94% of UVB rays while those with an SPF of 30 block 97% of UVB rays. The average amount of sunscreen people apply, however, is 0.5 mg/[cm.sup.2], or roughly 25% of the recommended dose” (Brunk, 2008).
If you have any questions, please feel free to connect with me via Instagram or email!
Brunk, D. (2008). Patients May Need to Be Convinced About Importance of Sunscreen. Internal Medicine News, 41(7), 23-23.
Skin Cancer Foundation (2013). UVA & UVB. Retrieved from https://www.skincancer.org/prevention/uva-and-uvb
Wilson, B. D., Moon, S., & Armstrong, F. (2012). Comprehensive review of ultraviolet radiation and the current status on sunscreens. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 5(9), 18.
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