The Skinny on Sunscreen by Michelle Sablan
  • Post category:Skin care

It’s sunny. Now it’s raining. Now it’s sunny again. I live in Florida and the summers are filled with Mother Nature’s mood swings. I actually don’t mind the fluctuation too much. In fact, I quite like the rainy weather during the work week. There’s something soothing about giving massages and facials on a rainy day, But there are also plenty of sunny days, an average of 320 sunny days per year here in Panama City.

Since moving to Panama City, I have become especially aware of the importance of sunscreen. Some of you may be rolling your eyes and thinking, “I don’t burn. Why should I worry about sunscreen?” Others may be nodding your head emphatically and thinking, “Yes, I definitely wear sunscreen!” The rest of you may be thinking, “Eh. Suncreen. I use it sometimes, only when I go outside. What’s the big deal?”

What’s the big deal?

To me, protecting my skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays is a big deal and a part of my daily routine.

The skin is the largest organ of the body. And like all parts of the body, it is subject to declination as the years go by. It is no secret the skin is affected by genetics and the passage of time. However, only 10-15% of aging is due to those unavoidable factors.

The majority of skin damage comes from extrinsic factors. What is the biggest external cause of skin aging? You got it – sun exposure. Yes, you read that right…sun damage is responsible for 85-90% of your extrinsic aging! A scary thought, huh?

The sun’s UV rays are responsible for accelerating the breakdown of components of the skin (ie.collagen and elastin), leading to laxity, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, dull skin, dehydration and enlargement of pores. Oh, and we can’t forget the increased risk for skin cancer. 

For those that mention they wear sunscreen only when they go outside, this means that you should probably be wearing sunscreen every day unless you are staying in your house all day and away from all windows.

Did you know that UV rays penetrate glass? Let’s say your drive to work is 15 minutes each way, making your total commute 30 minutes.

30 minutes x 5 times per day = 150 minutes.

150 minutes per week x 48 weeks (taking into account vacations and holidays) = 7,200.

That’s 7,200 minutes of unprotected sun exposure per year if you do not wear sunscreen on your way to work because you “don’t go outside”. And this number can climb if your desk or work station is near a window. Not only can UV rays penetrate glass, but they also penetrate clouds, so don’t let a cloudy day fool you!

Enter Sunscreen: The most abundant and affordable anti-aging product available.

An anti-aging product that can be used starting in childhood, protecting young, sensitive skin. An anti-aging product that can prolong the look and feel of beautiful, healthy skin. An anti-aging product that could be life saving.

Thankfully, the FDA has tightened their regulations on sunscreen products, making it easier for consumers to know what is in their purchases. For example, some make-up brands that claimed they had SPF in their products are no longer able to promote in such a way because the actual levels of SPF in the product do not meet the new standards. To help with some of the confusion, here is a link from the American Academy of Dermatology to help you choose a sunscreen: How to Choose a Sunscreen.

Now that you know the importance of wearing sunscreen, here are a few more tips to keeping your skin young and healthy:

  •   Ensure you use sunscreen that protects from both UVA and UVB rays
  •   Use sunscreen EVERY DAY. Even on cloudy days. Even if you work in an office all day. The amount of UV radiation that you will receive during short periods during the day is still damaging.
  •   Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes prior to going outside to allow products to absorb into the skin.
  •   Reapply. Reapply. Reapply. Oh, don’t forget to reapply.
  •   If you are spending a lot of time outside, wear UV protected sunglasses and a brimmed hat. 
  •   Wear a lip balm that contains SPF.

Yes, sun is good for the soul and for production of Vitamin D. And vacations. We definitely couldn’t live without the sun. But like all good things, we should enjoy it in moderation. And while you’re enjoying the kiss of the sun, please be sure to use your sunscreen. Trust me, your future self will thank you for it!