The Value of Sunscreen in Skincare

Sunscreens are often considered to be outside of the realm of skincare proper by many consumers, and are treated as products to be used on special occasions, similar to bug repellant. The benefits of sunscreen cannot be overstated, and we believe it to be the single most important skincare product that a consumer can purchase.

Why sunscreens are the most effective anti-aging solution

Many regard moisturizers, toners, and creams, as part of their ´daily skincare,´ and have routines to take care of their skin. Yet many of these same people regard sunscreens as little more than a preventative solution to sunburns when going to the beach or camping.

In reality, sunscreens have a far more significant long-term impact on skin quality than all other skincare products combined. Sunscreens protect our skin from the most common source of skin problems: Overexposure to UV light. By protecting the skin from long-term skin damage, sunscreens can be said to be the most powerful anti-aging product.

  • Sun damage from repeated exposure to UV light accounts for the overwhelming majority of environmental causes of skin aging.
  • In the short-term, overexposure to UV light cause sunburns which can be painful, and is often associated with dizziness and fatigue. Severe cases of sunburn should be considered a medical emergency.
  • The long-term effects of UV exposure are just as dangerous if not more so, causing premature aging, as well as dangerous and potentially life-threatening skin cancers. As the long-term effects are not noticeable immediately, many underestimate the amount of damage that their lifestyle does to their skin. If you compare the skin the skin on the inside of your arms with the skin of the outer arms which are exposed to years of sun exposure, you can visualize the effects of sun damage.
  • Photo-aging, roughness of the skin, broken blood vessels, pigmentation problems like sun spots, can affect the appearance of the skin significantly.

Compliance

One of the main challenges in sun protection is that of compliance. Similar to medical compliance - the degree to which patients follow medical advice and take the instructed medication - sunscreen can be viewed in a similar light.

  • The effect of long-term sun damage is not immediately visible, and therefore is often underestimated or unnoticed. Many people are surprised to notice the difference between sun-exposed skin and non-exposed skin when they compare the skin on the inside and outside of their arms respectively.
  • Although sunscreens are generally inexpensive relative to other cosmetic products like creams and lotions, the cost can still be a burden and a factor that discourages regular sunscreen use. While it's important to choose quality products, it is also important to choose a product that is not so expensive that you would feel uncomfortable using it regularly.
  • Texture is often an important factor in determining regular use. Many consumers complain that they do not like the sticky texture of many sunscreens. Quality is an important factor but personal preference is also an important consideration, as regularity of use is just as important if not more so. The key to using sunscreens on a daily basis is to like the product itself, and to build a routine that includes the application of sunscreen.

What to look for in a sunscreen:

Sun protection technology has advanced a great deal in the past few decades, and there are many effective and inexpensive products available. While it´s important not to ignore personal preference as it promotes regular use, there are some criteria in determining which products are superior.

  • Broad spectrum protection-It is important that your sunscreen has the broad spectrum label, or otherwise states that it protects the skin from UVA as well as UVB rays. While most sunscreens nowadays do offer broad spectrum protection, some do not. Remember that SPF only measures protection from UVB rays.
  • Choose sunscreens that have an SPF of 15 or higher. SPF is an indication of how long the user can expect to be exposed to the sun without getting sunburned. The number indicates the difference in time it takes to become sunburned with and without use of the sunscreen. Read the article, "What is SPF?" for more details on this measurement.
  • Choose sunscreens that are affordable and one that you would enjoy and feel comfortable using, as it will encourage you to use it more regularly. The best sunscreen that sits on the shelf is just taking up space.