The sun is your frenemy.
Do your plants need to grow? Sun’s your girl. Beach trip? Sun rocks those waves. Feeling blue in the winter? Call up Sun for a coffee date and you’ll be high on life and caffeine.
She’s amazing. Most of the time.
Then there is the other side of Sun. First, she makes you look old. Like, REALLY old. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, her UV rays cause “up to 90 percent of visible changes commonly attributed to aging, such as wrinkles, brown spots, and sagging skin.” Does she do it on purpose? Who can say? No one has specialized in yellow dwarf star psychology yet.
So, left without any type of therapy, Sun has developed another problem. She’s a graffiti artist spraying around skin cancer like a rebellious teenager with too much angst and no adult supervision. Remember that beach trip you took her on? She tried to tag so many people with melanoma that day--including you.
Why do you hang out with her again? Oh right, all life on earth depends on her. And she's fun when she’s not trying to kill you.
Handling frenemies can be hard. So first, let's look at exactly how the sun causes so much trouble. Then, we'll go over five ways to protect yourself from her machinations.
How the Sun Causes Skin Cancer (And Turns You Into Your Grandmother): UVA and UVB Rays
You may have heard of sunlight's ultraviolet radiation, or UV rays, that penetrate your skin and cause damage. UV rays come in two main forms, UVA and UVB.
UVB rays are like the sun’s short game for wreaking havoc. Have you ever returned from a weekend at the lake glowing like a lobster and peeling like a lizard? Thank UVB.
But wait, UVB has a hidden long-game too. The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) says that “UVB rays also play the greatest role in causing skin cancers, including the deadly black mole form of skin cancer (malignant melanoma).” That’s right, cancer. Deadly. Also, not very pretty. No one wants to look like a dead, mole-covered lobster.
Meanwhile, UVA rays like to keep quiet. UIHC says, “UVA rays penetrate more deeply into the skin and play a greater role in premature skin aging changes including wrinkle formation (photoaging).” https://uihc.org/health-topics/what-difference-between-uva-and-uvb-rays
So, UVA slowly turns you into your grandmother without you realizing it. Then one day you look in the mirror and wonder if it’s time to get a bouffant to go with those wrinkles. Oh, and according to UIHC there are “500 times more UVA rays in sunlight than UVB rays.” So, even if you’re mildly tanning with UVB rays, you’re seriously aging with UVA.
What Protects The Skin From UV Rays?
How to protect yourself from the sun is as simple as blocking UV rays before they can penetrate your skin and cause damage. Simple? Well, it’s simple to understand but sometimes overwhelming to do. But here are some easy lifestyle changes you can make to protect your skin and stay a young, alive, non-lobster.
And remember, these tips aren’t just for when you hit up the beach but for every day living. Have you ever wondered if you can get sun damage through a window? Well, you can. According to Science Focus magazine, glass does block 97 percent of UVB rays but only 37 percent of UVA rays. So while the window will probably protect you from turning into a lobster, 63% of those UVA, grandma-transforming rays are penetrating your skin as you work at your desk.
Not to mention all the UVB intensive time you spend walking to your car after work, loading your groceries at the store and checking the mail at the end of the block. UV rays grab at every chance they get to cause damage, whether that’s one minute or five hours.
So how can you block those rays?
Here are the top 5 ways:
1. Stay indoors during peak sunlight hours
The sun can most damage your skin between 10 am and 4 pm according to American Skin Associaton. Stay indoors as much as possible during these hours. Planning a weekend at the beach? There isn't anything more instagrammable than being there at sunset.
2. Wear Sunscreen
Wear a sunscreen SPF30+ every day, rain or shine, for the best protection. Ever wondered what SPF stands for or why you should wear it? Learn more in this article about why SPF is your secret weapon against aging.
3. Wear Sun Protective Clothing
Sun protective clothing sounds boring, ugly and unfashionable. Don't worry. It's not. Your favorite pair of jeans already block a ton of UV rays. For the best protection, cover as much skin as possible and choose materials that are well-fitting and not see-through. For more check out this article on sun protective clothing and UPF ratings.
4. Wear A Hat
Sun hats are awesome for skin cancer protection. Not only can they look adorable while gardening or at the beach, but they provide shade, coolness and protect your skin. Make sure to get a hat with a wide brim that can protect your complete face.
5. Wear Sunglasses
Your eyes can be affected by sunlight too. Not to mention, it can be difficult to put sunblock very close to your eyes, leaving that skin open to damage. Ever wonder what UV rating should sunglasses be? According to the Washington Post, your sunglasses need a rating of UV400 to give your eyes the protection they need.
These Best Sun Protection Tips Make The Sun Your Best Friend
With these sun protection tips, you are ready to turn the sun from your frenemy into your best friend. It's important to turn them into everyday habits for them to benefit your skin. But once in place, they can become an easy part of your beauty and fashion routine.