Well, Summer is upon us! We can almost taste the popsicles, the days by the pool, the cookouts, and campfires under the stars. Especially after the damp spring that we have had, we are looking forward to the warmth and sunshine! But long days in the sun means we need to know the facts about protecting our skin! Our skin, after all, is the largest organ in our body, and deserves a little TLC. Not only can sun exposure cause signs of aging, it is also directly linked to skin cancer. Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer. There are three main types: Basal Cell, Squamous Cell, and Melanoma. The first two are very common but are also rarely deadly. These are a more superficial kind of skin cancer, and are generally treated with removal. Melanoma, however, while less common, can be quite deadly. Melanoma accounts for only about 1% of all skin cancers, but accounts for most skin cancer deaths because it rapidly spreads or metastasizes to other body areas. All of the three main types of skin cancer are directly related to sun exposure and sun damage to the skin. They are more common in Caucasians and people with fairer skin, but can happen in people with darker skin pigmentation as well. Prevention of these kinds of cancers involves protection from the sun with a good sunscreen and protective clothing. You should also periodically check your skin, or have your doctor check your skin, to see if there are any unusual moles or freckles. Any thing on your skin that is changing or getting larger should be checked out by your doctor. Check out this article on the American Cancer Society’s website for information on spotting skin cancer! So, since sunscreen is the best way to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun and UV rays, we thought we would share a few tips about sunscreen application, and some of our fave products!
As the good doctor mentioned above, sun exposure can cause premature aging. As I have always told all of my skin care clients and friends that have asked for advice on anti-aging products, “prevention is better than the cure.” Many times people think because they tan or have a darker skin tone, they are safe. However, the sun causes the collagen and elastin fibers in the skin to dry out and weaken which is what causes the sagging appearance. So, it doesn’t matter what skin type you have, aging is aging . Protect your birthday suit people, you only get one!
One of the biggest misconceptions (and marketing ploys) out there about sun protection are products that include an SPF component. I can’t tell you how many times when discussing sunscreen with a client that they think they are well protected because their face lotion or foundation has an SPF in it. Not to mention, everything from nail polish to hairspray contains SPF now. Not only are the amounts minimal, but the lasting power of a true SPF needs to be reapplied throughout the day for maximum effectiveness. If you are headed to the beach, the park, or going outside to exercise, you absolutely want to use a true sunscreen with a high SPF and use physical barriers such as hat or a visor, long sleeves in cooler weather, your cover-up, or an umbrella to minimize your long-term exposure.
When it comes to every day life, I’m not recommending everyone wear crazy amounts of SPF, however incidental sun (which is exposure that you get from riding in your car, running errands in and out of stores, maybe taking a short walk on your lunch hour, or walking the dog) adds up!! That lotion or foundation with an SPF will provide a little coverage during these times, but I recommend, and use myself, face sunscreens that I can layer on over my moisturizer, and under make up. Don’t forget to throw a hat on next time you go to walk the dog! These little steps are like putting money into your anti-aging piggy bank, every little bit makes a difference.
Below are a few brands of sunscreens that I recommend (and use myself) that do not contain many of the chemical-laden and concerning ingredients found in many products. If you are not aware of the Environmental Working Group, their website provides a great list of sunscreens that are rated (1-10)
on sun protection and ingredient safety. Definitely check it out and familiarize yourself with which ones are the safest (they include ones for whole body as well as for kids). All of the products I have listed below are rated between 1-3. Note: Not every product in a brand is rated the same. You might find a company with 20 different sunscreens and only has one or two that makes the list. There are many options out there, but always use at least a 30 on your face people!! Those little collagen and elastin fibers will thank you when you are 80 and look like you’re 70, and moreover, maintain the overall health of your skin which is the biggest and most important benefit!
Dr. Andrew WEIL for Origins Mega Defense •Advanced Daily UV Defender, SPF 45
Anthelios Mineral SPF 50 sunscreen
–Cara and Monica