Practical Sun Protection
Sun protection is similar to proper diet. It´s all about a change in lifestyle. It´s not about hitting the gym five days in a row; it´s about opting to walk for 15 minutes to work instead of talking the bus year after year.
Why Sun Protection is so Important
Sun damage plays a crucial role in most skin problems. Consistent sunscreen use will make the most significant difference in your skin´s appearance and health. Many of the skin problems associated with old age such as wrinkling, mottled or pigmented skin, actinic keratosis, and skin cancer are all caused or accelerated by years of UV exposure. If you compare the skin on the inside of the arms which are undamaged by the sun, and the outer arms which are often exposed, the difference in the skin´s quality is very noticeable. The outer arms will often show symptoms of skin damage which become more pronounced with age: red and brown spots, inflamed follicles, tans, and mottled skin are all common. The pronounced difference in the skin demonstrates the power of long-term sun exposure. Sunscreens, if applied correctly and consistently can help make up a lot of that difference.
- Sun damage is the single most important environmental factor that leads to premature skin aging such as wrinkling, pigmentation problems, and mottled skin. In other words, the less sun exposure you have, the younger your skin will appear.
- UV damage is not immediately visible unless you are exposed to a large amount of sunlight, as is the case with sunburns. The damage which may not be immediately evident, however, continues to accumulate as long as you live.
- Overexposure to UV light can cause potentially life threatening skin cancers.
Habits and Lifestyle
Habits are powerful forces that influence our regular behavior on a regular basis - they inform our lifestyle. Instead of skincare, consider habits that relate to general health such as diet and nutrition, exercise, sleep, as well as alcohol consumption and smoking. You might notice that people who live healthy do not necessarily work extraordinarily hard in living healthy - they simply live that way - it´s a part of their lifestyle. Similarly, those that have difficulty are not ignorant of the factors that influence their health in a negative way; they have difficulty in making the healthy changes a part of their lifestyle. The challenge is maintaining the good habits on an ongoing basis.
People who are health-conscious are well aware of the power of habits. It might be something simple and small, like taking a 15 minute walk to work instead of taking the bus in the morning or replacing a chocolate bar with a banana at lunch. The results of these changes are invisible in the short-term, but very evident after a year. Sun protection is very similar in that small details add up over the years.
- Small details matter. UV damage is cumulative, and continues to add up throughout one´s entire lifetime.
- Consistency is critical. A small but consistent change in habits is far more significant than sudden but short-lived changes.
- It´s important to set reasonable goals whether you are trying to lose weight or protect yourself from the sun. Think long-term and make small but permanent changes that won´t disrupt your current lifestyle too much.
Sunscreens: The most effective anti-aging solution
The regular use of sunscreen is the most efficient way to minimize accumulated sun damage. Although there are other important tips such as wearing protective clothing such as long-brimmed hats, umbrellas, and long sleeves, these are often unpractical on hot summer days. Wearing sunscreen on the other hand is easy, inexpensive, and effective. The caveat is that they need to be used regularly. Many people use sunscreens like they use bug sprays - to be used once a year on a camping trip with family. While sunscreens are indeed important when you expect to be out in the sun for extended periods, it should be used year round, on a regular basis, much like other skincare products are. UV radiation damages the skin year round, and not just when beaching, skiing or camping.
Think of sunscreens as part of a skincare routine. Many people have a daily skin care routine that includes cleansing, moisturizing and toning, and some people use even more complicated systems of skincare on a daily basis. If you start thinking of sunscreen use as a part of that routine, it is a relatively easy and inexpensive solution. Considering its effect in preventing sun damage, sunscreens offer great value for their price.
- Regular sunscreen use is the most efficient way to prevent accumulated UV damage.
- Although sun avoidance, wearing long sleeves, wide-brimmed hats, and umbrellas are all good and important advice, these tips are often not feasible on a regular basis. Few people want to wear any of these things in hot weather, and avoiding the outdoors entirely is very rarely a reasonable option.
- Choose quality sunscreens. Look for products that offer broad spectrum protection (protects you from UVA as well as UVB rays), an SPF rating of 15 or higher.
- Sunscreens are inexpensive compared to other lotions and creams and considering their effect on the skin, it is a much better pound for pound purchase than any other cosmetic product.
- Price matters. Sunscreens are not like bug sprays which are used on special occasions like camping. They are to be used on a daily basis, so choose a price range that you would be comfortable using on a regular basis.
- Personal preference matters. If you do not like the fragrance or consistency of the sunscreen, you will not use the product regularly. Choose a product that you would enjoy using on a regular basis.