Image by @yanakalina via @pinterest
Sunscreen is an important part of our skincare routine because it can help protect us from the sun’s UV rays. Firstly, UV damage is the number 1 cause of all skin cancers. Secondly, it causes premature aging in the skin. Lastly, it can make your skin more sensitive if you are on certain medications (e.g. isotretinoin) or have pre-existing conditions that make your skin more vulnerable to the sun (e.g. rosacea).
Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation
The sun emits 3 types of UV radiation: UVC, UVB and UVA rays. UVC rays is not something we should be concerned with as it never reaches the Earth because the ozone layer absorbs it.
UVB rays are short, high energy wavelengths that hit the surface of the skin. It is responsible for redness, swelling and sunburns. Think UVB = Burn. SPF (Sun Protection Factor) gives protection against UVB rays.
UVA rays have a longer wavelength that can penetrate more deeply into our skin to cause premature aging. It can also penetrate through glass and clouds (which is why we should still be wearing sunscreen on a cloudy day and when we are indoors). Think UVA = Aging. The term “broad spectrum” or PA (different terms depending on country) gives protection against UVA rays.
UVA is Damaging
UVA rays are the number one cause of premature aging. Because of its longer wavelength, they penetrate the skin into the dermis damaging collagen, elastin and other fibres that gives the skin its smooth and youthful appearance. Signs of UVA damage:
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Discolouration (sun spots)
- Textural changes (thinning of skin)
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not telling you to avoid the sun like the plague (or COVID-19 given the current pandemic we are facing). You can still enjoy going out in the sun as long as you are protecting yourself from the sun by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
Importance of Sunscreen
Sunscreen is the easiest and most effective way to protect yourself from the sun. It is arguably the most important step of every skincare routine. How much sunscreen is enough? The general rule to follow is ½ teaspoon or 2.5ml of sunscreen to the face and neck (that varies according to the size of your face).