– According to skin care experts, your complexion needs to be protected from the sun every day. Even when hidden by clouds, the sun emits ultraviolet rays that can damage skin cells and contribute to the aging process. As much as 40% of the UV rays that reach the earth are generated on a cloudy day. By applying a sunscreen, you can shield your skin from potentially harmful UV rays. Wearing a sunscreen every day can help to reduce the fine lines, wrinkles, age spots and uneven skin tone that can be caused by photoaging. read more about sunscreen » | find answers to your skin care questions »
There are two types of UV rays that can affect the skin: UVA and UVB. UVA has longer wavelengths and penetrates deeper into the skin. UVA rays play a significant role in skin aging and sagging. UVB rays are shorter and are the chief cause of sunburn. The damage caused by UVB rays can be easily seen because the skin turns red. UVA rays can also damage the skin, however the effects are not always immediately obvious. Both UVA and UVB rays have been linked to the skin cell changes that can lead to serious skin conditions including cancer and melanoma.
Sunscreen are rated according to their sun protection factor (SPF). An SPF measures the sunscreen’s ability to guard against UVB rays damaging the skin. The higher the SPF, the larger percentage of protection you receive against the sun’s rays. An SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays, compared to an SPF 30 that blocks out 97% and SPF 15 that blocks 93% of UVB rays.
Sunscreens provide differing levels of protection against UVA and UVB rays depending on their type and concentration of their active ingredients. Sunscreens that are described as “broad spectrum” protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Ingredients that can protect the skin from the sun include zinc oxide, octinoxate, titanium dioxide, octisalate, retinyl palmitate and avobenzone.
To save you from having to apply multiple products to your face every morning, there are a range of beauty products that have an SPF in addition to their main function. Ingredients that protect the skin from the sun can be found in some moisturizers, foundations and face powders. Products that do double duty can save you time, ensuring that you are not tempted to skip vital sun protection.
If you will be sweating or swimming in the sea or in a pool, skin care experts recommend that you use a sunscreen labeled “water-resistant”. After emerging from the water or toweling off, you should reapply your sunscreen to ensure that an appropriate level of protection is maintained.
Sunscreens tend to be most effective when they are applied around 30 minutes prior to the skin being exposed to the sun. This gives the active ingredients time to bind to the skin. If you are outdoors for a prolonged period, experts recommend that you should reapply your sunscreen after two hours to ensure that your skin remains protected from the sun.