5 Science-backed Reasons You Should Wear Sunscreen, Starting Today

5 Science-backed Reasons You Should Wear Sunscreen, Starting Today

sunscreen, sun cream, spf

So sunscreen huh? Why should I wear it? It’s not even SUNNY in the UK?!!!

Well here’s why.

Sunscreen is essentially a barrier between our skin and the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Even in colder, murkier climates like in the UK, our skin is still vulnerable to the sun’s invisible rays. Or should I say the invisible sun’s rays.¬† The effects of sun damage show up overtime, and by then it’s too late to save your skin – that’s why the best tactic is daily usage of a broad spectrum, high sun protection factor (SPF) sunscreen. Ask any dermatologist and they’re bound to serve up the same tea.

What is ultraviolet radiation?

In short, ultraviolet radiation is one of the types of electromagnetic energy emitted by the sun and other sources, like tanning beds. There are 3 types of UV rays, which are UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA has the longest wavelength, UVB has the second longest and UVC has the shortest wavelength. Most of the rays we encounter is UVA and some of UVB while UVC is absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere. The only way to be exposed to UVC radiation is through artificial sources such as a UVC lamp. Now this isn’t to say that if you have a UVC lamp it will burn your skin. But try to avoid direct skin exposure or looking into the light (duh). Now let’s look into the effects of UVA and UVB radiation on our skin.

  • UVA rays can reach the middle layer of skin (dermis) causing ageing, wrinkling, and saggy skin. Or more scientifically – loss of elasticity.
  • UVB rays reach the outer layer of skin (epidermis) increasing the risk of skin cancer.
  • UVA also increases the damaging effects of UVB, including skin cancer.

How harmful is tanning?

While some time in the sun is healthy and fun, prolonged sun exposure can wreak havoc on the skin. When you get a tan, it’s your skin’s response to injury from UVA radiation. When the rays reach the skin, the skin produces more melanin (colour pigment), and this pigment is what gives you your tan.

If you’ve ever had sunburn, and got all red and blistery, that was a sure-fire sign of short-term overexposure. On the other hand, premature wrinkles and skin cancer are side effects of long-term UV exposure. If you’re prone to sunburn, and/or you’re on certain medication that will increase your skin sensitivity to the sun’s rays, then be sure to be kind to your skin and slather on that sunscreen. Everyone needs a bit of sun therapy for a mood lift and vitamin D production but be careful not to prioritise pleasure over skin safety.

What is sunscreen?

If it’s not self-explanatory enough, sunscreen is a skincare product that protects skin cells from the sun’s UV rays. They contain either chemical or physical active ingredients (or both) to protect skin against sun damage. As mentioned earlier, the higher the SPF, supposedly the greater the protection from UV damage – but this also depends on many factors like broad spectrum, length of time spent in the sun and how often sunscreen is reapplied.

SPF stands for sun protection factor and is usually followed by 15, 30 or 50. I know you’re confused so just let me explain. These numbers tell you how long it would take for the sun’s UVB rays to burn the skin after the product is applied versus if you didn’t wear it. You still with me? Let me give you an example. An SPF 30 sunscreen means it would take 30x longer for the skin to burn in the sun than if you didn’t wear sunscreen. SPF also only refers to protection against UVB rays – so keep an eye out for broad spectrum products that provide protection against UVA. (Hint: it usually says PA+++ on the product).

What’s the difference between chemical and physical sunscreen?

  • Chemical sunscreens work by filtering out UV light that reaches the skin.
  • Physical sunscreens¬†(aka mineral sunscreens) work by reflecting or blocking UV light with ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

To use sunscreen correctly, always read the label. If in doubt, always apply the product liberally around 30 mins before you go outside to give it time to work. I’ve rounded up the 5 most important reasons why sunscreen should be in your daily skincare ritual!

1. Prevent sunburn

Wearing your sunscreen can save you the embarrassment of those uneven red splotches. A good sunblock or sunscreen can save you days of pustular agony and can also save you money on steroids used to treat sunburn scarring.

2. Reduce risk of skin cancer

Routine use of sunscreen can greatly decrease your risk of skin cancer, especially if it has a high SPF and is reapplied multiple times a day. If you’re a sun bug or just like being outdoors, then kick it up with a higher SPF (if you can). Some sunscreen is better than none after all.

3. Prevent signs of ageing

No one wants premature wrinkles?! If you’re the type of person who likes tanning until they look like an island native then this might change your mind. Repeated exposure to the sun can damage the cells and collagen in your skin (photodamage). A lower collagen production means less elasticity and is a precursor to ageing skin. Seek alternative methods to get that sun-kissed skin – like a tanning mitt or spray tan. But don’t forget to top up with your sunscreen too.

4. Maintain an even skin tone

Tons of people suffer from sunspots and this is due to not enough protection of the skin from UV radiation. Conditions like hyperpigmentation and melasma can worsen in the sun – so covering your skin with a solid sunscreen would be your best bet at achieving a more even skin tone.

5. Set an example for your kids

Lastly, set an example for your kids! By wearing your sun protection, you are teaching your kids to do the same. By a kid-friendly sunscreen for them and let them slather it on each day. The skin is just as vital as any other organ and the younger they start wearing sunscreen, the better it is for their health.

If you need help picking out sunscreen, reach out to your local doctor or dermatologist today!