The sun, not time, is our skin’s greatest adversary. While time causes chronological aging, the sun causes “photo-aging.”
Over 80 percent of the skin changes that result in wrinkles, age spots, dilated blood vessels, spider veins, red bumps, growths and raised dark spots are caused solely by the sun's rays.
And it doesn’t take much sun to do it. A 1997 article in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that only minutes of exposure here and there accumulate over the years and lead to premature skin aging. This is far less than the exposure required to produce a visible sunburn or even a tan.
In addition, even when the sun doesn’t appear to be shining brightly, its rays are there, working their damage.
The most important skin care product available to prevent wrinkles and skin cancer is sunscreen, but do you know how to use it correctly?
Exposure to ultraviolet light, UVA or UVB, from sunlight, accounts for 90% of the symptoms of premature skin aging such as wrinkles and skin cancers. The sun gives off ultraviolet (UV) radiation that we divide into 3 categories based on their wavelength.
UVC Radiation - Absorbed by the atmosphere. Does not cause skin damage.
UVB Radiation - Affects the outer layer of skin, the epidermis, and is the primary agent responsible for sunburns. UVB does not penetrate glass, and the intensity of UVB radiation depends on the time of day and the season.
UVA Radiation - penetrates deeper into the skin and works more efficiently. The intensity of UVA radiation is more constant than UVB without the variations during the day and throughout the year. UVA is also not filtered by glass. Tanning salon machines use UVA radiation, so keep this in mind.
Choose a sunscreen product that states, "UVA/UVB," protection or has "broad spectrum" protectant. A proper sunscreen should have an SPF of at least 15 and contain avobenzone, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide. Stay out of the sun during peak hours, late morning and early evening. Apply sunscreen 15-30 mins before going out to allow it to absorb into the skin. If you have acne-prone skin, use an oil-free sunscreen. Re-apply your sunscreen every 2 hours.