Why You Should Be Wearing Sunscreen ALL The Time! (Not Just On Sunny Days)
First I want to say that I know some of you do not wear sunscreen all the time. And that is bad. Very bad. The sun causes up to 90% of aging and raises your risk of skin cancer significantly. That doesn't take into account environmental factors like smoking and pollution. Then there is genetics. If you are a person of color, the likelihood that you will age slower if you take care of your skin is quite good. Wearing sunscreen is the most helpful thing you can do for your skin.
But how often do you need to wear it? Every day. Even when the sun isn't shining and even during the winter. Yes, you heard me right. The sun's UV (ultraviolet rays) can make it through the clouds and penetrate your delicate skin anytime it is shining. Meaning, daytime. If it is nighttime and the sun has set, you are safe from its rays.
What goes into making a good sunscreen though? There are two types of sunscreens: chemical and mineral. Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone, oxisalate, homosalate and oxinoxate. These actually physically absorb the sun's rays. Although there are two of them that have been linked to breast cancer, oxybenzone and propyblparaben. Also, some chemical sunscreen ingredients (oxybenzone and oxinoxate) have been linked to killing coral reefs. Mineral sunscreens are ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium oxide. These actually physically reflect the sun's rays instead of absorbing them. The higher the SPF (sun protection factor), the higher the amount of chemicals, that is to be expected. I would avoid ones with oxybenzone if you can. There are variations in the amount depending of chemicals depending on what the SPF will be, so look on the label.
On people of color, sunscreens can provide what is called a whitecast or sometimes turn even a bluish or purplish color. There are specifically sunscreens available for people of color but also ones that do not have whitecast. Supergoop Unseen is my personal favorite, it goes on clear and also works as a primer. Another good example is CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF30, it is great for any skin tone, and this one is definitely non-comedogenic (it will not cause acne flare-ups). Supergoop is a great line in general. Their whole company is based upon sunscreen and is good for BIPOC.
Personally, I prefer a mineral one when I can to a chemical one. It used to be that mineral sunscreens were horrible and would leave a bad white residue on the face, but these days the molecules have been micronized so well that it is no longer the case. A great brand for mineral sunscreens is MyChelle Dermaceuticals. They are an all natural skincare brand that has a line of mineral sunscreens. For the body I love the MyChelle Replenishing Solar Defense Body Lotion SPF50, which is water resistant. And for the face I like their Sun Shield SPF 28 Unscented.
The SPF number tells you how long the sun's UV radiation would take to redden your skin when using the product exactly as directed versus the amount of time without any sunscreen. An SPF 30 allows about 3 percent of UVB rays to hit your skin. An SPF of 50 allows about 2 percent of those rays through. How long does SPF last for? That is how long your sun protection will last. For example, if you burn after 10 minutes of unprotected sun exposure and you are wearing SPF 30 you will get 5 hours of sun protection (10 minutes x 30 = 5 hours). I tend to burn very quickly, so I always wear at least a SPF40 and avoid the sun. Definitely avoid the sun between the afternoon hours of 12:00-4:00 pm, when the sun is at its strongest. Always make sure to reapply sunscreen after 2-3 hours and especially after swimming or excessive sweating.
You should always shoot for an SPF30 if possible. The higher the SPF does not necessarily mean the better the sun protection factor. According the the FDA, a higher SPF can raise your risk of overexposure to UV radiation, and raise your risk of skin cancer. People are led into a false sense of security by a higher SPF, thinking it will last longer, when in fact it doesn't. Often the SPF is misused and instead of being reapplied, people will only use it once the entire day.
I am 49 years old and have already had skin cancer twice! Granted, I am of Northern European descent and had quite a bit of sun exposure in my youth, but the risk is real. Take care of your skin and you will reap the rewards. I hope this has been informative and helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until Next Time~