Summer is nearly here, so now is the time to arm yourself with the right protection for your skin. In addition to lowering your risk for skin cancer, practicing daily sun protection will guard against early signs of aging like fine lines and brown spots. Since May is also Skin Cancer Awareness Month, the staff at Incredible Veins, Skin & Body wants to help you have the safest summer possible with these tips for effective sun protection.
Know Your UV Rays
The sun emits two types of UV rays; UVB rays, which are the rays traditional sunscreen was designed to protect against, and UBA rays, which can also increase your risk for skin cancer and early signs of aging. Now that we understand both types of UV rays can be harmful, newer sunscreen formulations are stepping up to provide protection against both.
You can ensure the sunscreen you choose will provide protection against UVB and UVA rays by looking for the words “multi-spectrum” or “broad-spectrum” protection on the product label. You can also check the label for UVA-protecting ingredients like avobenzone, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Avobenzone and oxybenzone are chemical ingredients that protect the skin by absorbing the sun’s rays at the surface of the skin. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are physical ingredients that work by reflecting the sun’s rays off of the skin.
The sun is not the only source of harmful UV rays. Tanning booths also emit these dangerous rays, which is why most physicians recommend against using tanning booths completely. There are some topical self-tanning products that can be safe and give you the summer glow you are craving without putting your skin at risk.
Choose Your Sun Protection
There are so many sunscreen products on the market today, it can be difficult to know which formulations will offer you the best possible protection. SPF is one of the first factors to consider when choosing sun protection, but when it comes to the numbers, bigger isn’t always better. Most people will get sufficient daily protection with an SPF 30, which guards against around 97 percent of the sun’s rays. An SPF 45 increases your protection to about 98 percent of the sun’s rays – not a huge difference.
It is also important to understand the difference between waterproof and water-resistant formulas since water exposure can directly impact your protection. If a sunscreen is labeled “water-resistant,” it has been shown to maintain its SPF for up to 40 minutes after water exposure. “Waterproof” indicates the formula will maintain its SPF for up to 80 minutes after water exposure. This gives you time after swimming or sweating to reapply your sunscreen before your skin becomes completely unprotected.
Proper Application Pointers
The method in which you apply your sunscreen is just as important as the sunscreen formulation you choose, if not even more so. Remember this basic 20-2-1 rule when applying sunscreen:
- Always apply at least 20 minutes prior to heading outdoors
- Reapply every two hours unless you are in the water or sweating heavily (in which case, you should apply as soon as you have dried off)
- Use a minimum of one ounce of sunscreen to coat your skin (the equivalent of about one shot glass of lotion or 30-90 seconds of spray time)
Don’t forget your scalp when you apply your sunscreen since many skin cancers actually begin here. You can spray a bit of sunscreen along your part and across your scalp to provide the extra protection needed.
Other Protection Methods
Sunscreen isn’t the only way to protect your skin, particularly during the summer months when UV rays tend to be at their strongest. Clothing can also provide good protection, as long as you choose loose clothing with a tight weave that won’t let the sun’s rays through. There are even garments today specifically designed for sun protection, featuring their own SPF.
Hats are a good form of protection, both for the scalp and the face if you select a hat with a wide brim. Sunglasses that boast full-spectrum protection are also a necessity. Most sunglasses sold in the U.S. today are required to offer protection against both UVB and UVA rays.
The sun’s rays are at their most intense during the middle portion of the day, between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. During this time of day, seek shade or remain indoors whenever possible to give your skin ample protection from the strongest rays of the day.
Examine Your Skin
All types of skin cancer are most treatable in their early stages so early detection is essential to a successful treatment program and positive prognosis. You can do your part in the early detection efforts by examining your skin regularly for any new or changing moles or lesions. When you are checking your marks, keep the ABCDE rule in mind:
- Asymmetry – the two halves of the mole are not identical
- Border – the border of the mole is not well defined
- Color – the mole is more than one color or has changed color
- Diameter – larger moles (larger than the eraser on a pencil) should always be checked by a doctor
- Evolution – any changes to current moles should be checked by a physician
In addition to performing self-checks regularly, you should have your skin examined by a physician annually to ensure there is nothing concerning. In addition to helping you find potential malignancies early, this process will give you peace of mind in knowing you are taking the best care of your skin possible.
Eliminate Previous Sun Damage
If your skin is already showing signs of sun damage, there are treatments that can help to reverse that damage and rejuvenate your complexion. At Incredible Veins, Skin & Body, we offer a variety of skin rejuvenation treatments designed to erase signs of sun damage like fine lines and age spots, while producing a clearer, refreshed appearance. Our procedures are non-surgical and typically involve little discomfort or downtime so you can rev up your complexion without a major crimp in your daily schedule.
If you have sun damage you would like to address, or would simply like to learn more about the best ways to protect your skin from sun damage, contact Incredible Veins, Skin & Body today at 818-446-2995.