With our planets barrier depleting, the animals (including the human variety) have limited built-in protection from the increasing rates of damaging UV rays. We can not adapt to the radiation we are exposed to as quickly as it is always changing. Mutations taking generations. Sun block is the most important step in skin care in this day in age. In this blog, I'll be addressing 3 key topics: The main. The reasons it should be your main step. The unicorns. Misconceptions we hear and maybe pass on. The lessons. The things we think we know but aren't quite they should be.
Making sun protection your goal in your skin care routine is key. I understand, all of us going less waste want to erase as many products as possible to create as little of an environmental impact. We can not be good advisors by giving bad advice on critical subject. That in and of itself taints the message we send to the world. We can show people more ecofriendly and less waste options. I do make my own sun block but there is no at-home gauge for the SPF of homemade sunscreen. Unless you send it in for proper testing, which many will not, you have to be careful. With that being said, I must advise people to do their own due diligence when it comes to sun protection. There are viable, less wasteful options on the market and here is why you should include these into routines.
We are being subjected to harmful UV rays all day, every day. Through windows, when we are outside, in the car... the list goes on. These rays are becoming stronger and stronger as our planet's natural defenses are thinned. As I said above, humans have evolved in many ways to protect our skin from UV damage. Skin with high levels of melanin, such as darker skin pigment and freckles, have come from our ancestors exposure to damage and natural evolutionary reactions our bodies design to protect us. Yet, with the UV rays increasing so quickly, something our ancestors never experienced. It's impossible for our genes to have mutated quickly enough to provide the same level of natural protection, if you will. Evolution just doesn't work that way.
Supplementing our skins natural defenses with sun screen is our only option. Avoiding sun damage is just as important as having a healthy diet or working out daily.
Hopefully the myths and misconceptions portions will provide adequate reasons to make this your main product because the main reason is simple: we need to protect yourselves.
The biggest one is that sunscreen in makeup is the same as sun screen we apply. More than likely, the sunscreen in makeup is just that: sun screen. It's probably a chemical sun protection agent. The way those work is to absorb into the skin and manipulate the UV rays effects on the skin. Chemical sunscreens will not be your best bet to prevent visible damage in most cases. Sun block sits on top of skin, physically blocking rays, aka why it's referred to as physical sunblock. Sunscreen screens the rays that hit your skin in a way that it won't be harmful.
Also, if a Makeup DOES have a physical sun block, like zinc oxide, you more than likely are not applying enough to get the adequate amount of protection. Are you reapplying a full face of makeup every 2 hours or after exposure to water or sweat? If not, then you are only protected for the duration of your sun protection's viable life, the fact that the color/makeup is still on your skin is not an indication of the effectiveness of the sun protection. That's it. The main thing I hear is people are allergic to sun protection creams but not allergic to makeup. In that case, it's time to evaluate your allergies. What does your makeup have that the allergen does not? Many chemical sun screens do cause reactions to sensitive skin. Try a physical sun protectant under your makeup. Sun protection factors of makeup are not meant to be stand alone protection, even makeup companies say that.
Another is that our skin needs sun exposure. Sure, everyone says 10 minutes of indirect sun in non-peak hours can help provide your body with a natural form of vitamin D. Not a day of it, straight beating our skin down. As stated above, we are in an ever changing environment. What our bodies could take hundreds of years ago isn't the same as today. It makes sense to supplement our skin's natural protection. I don't know about you but I'm not actively photosynthesizing my food. I'm not a plant, 99.9% sure of that. As important as the sun rays are to life, our skin isn't too happy about the harmful aspects of the sun. You may get enough sun through the day between applications, parts sun protection missed and more flaws in sunscreen/block and applications but not using it because you want the benefits is not safe. 10 minutes of indirect sunlight.
If we don't burn, we aren't damaged. Lie. It is true, sun burns increase your chances of skin damage. This does not mean that if you just tan that you are okay. That only means the UVB rays didn't burn your skin. You were still exposed to UVA rays that effect the lower levels of your skin, not always an immediate sign that damage has occurred. Any skin tone can receive damage from the sun, especially as the UV rays increase. Those damages may not be visible and often, different skin tones will show drastically different signs of damage. What skin cancer looks like on one skin type could be completely different on another type or tone.
Lack of sun creates issues, wearing sun protection causes SAD.
SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is the lack of sun creating a lack of serotonin. Serotontin is a chemical produced by our brains. When I say protect yourself from the sun, I do not mean never see the light of day. Your brain needs that visual of brightness, not necessarily sun as many would say. Believe me, unprotected skin is not the answer. Biggest issues are often sleep schedules are off, staying up all night, napping during the day, throwing off your bodies circadian rhythm (our body's natural clock). Those can be caused by many unnatural habits such as intentionally staying up late and creating dark (night time) environments. Your body will react well to a set day time (see light and be active) and night time (lack of light and at rest) at generally the same time each day. Having a good schedule, curtains that still allow brightness to be seen, being active and out at normal times of awake periods, bright indoor lights and especially waking with light at the same time are helpful. Your body loves a schedule, it helps it work in the way intended.
This, in no way, is a viable excuse expose yourself to burns or UV rays with no protection. I have not seen a study that suggested a lack of UV damage being detrimental to health. The lack of light and off-putting schedules and rhythms seem to be the key to SAD but even scientists are limited on how or why SAD even exists. If you already have an issue with insomnia or depression, see your doctor immediately for help.
Homemade sunscreens work just as well. Depends. This isn't exactly a myth but more like inconsistent risk. I make my own and I have tested it to be sure it works. It's heavy in iron oxides, zinc oxides and titanium dioxide. Where essential oils come in as sun protectants, some are a great add on to the aforementioned. I would not recommend it as a standalone, ever. It would work almost like a chemical sunscreen, if it worked at all. Unless it's been tested and proven, don't trust it. Not with your health. Oils containing 'sunscreen' are vary inconsistent. Don't rely on a plain oil to do the heavy lifting. I hear many things about people being untrusting of oxides but if you check with your dermatologist and learn more about how skin works, it's very unlikely that they could magically slip into your skin. Skin, the thing that actually keeps germs and bacteria OUT and our insides covered. Molecular structure of many things is larger than bacteria, as an example. Zinc can be amazing for many skin issues as well as creating a solid physical barrier, for instance. For those who don't want to go through to trouble of actively having an item tested or just want to blindly trust something a company said, please just buy one.
Lessons can get misconstrued over time and twisted, misunderstood. Here are some 'legends' you may or may not have thought to be true.
Many people see an SPF of 10 and think it means that's 10 on a scale of whatever scale people think of. In that case, 100 would be the best, right? Sadly, misconception. SPF of 10 means 90% of UVB rays are blocked for the duration of your SPF's effective life. It's recommended that people reapply sun screen every 2 hours. Organic sunscreens, not classified as a mineral based or chemical based sun screen, break down at an alarming rate when exposed to UV rays. Meaning they actually need to be applied MORE often. I always aim for an SPF of 30, blocking around 97%. An SPF of 100 does not mean 100% blocked. An SPF of 100 means around 99%. An example of an organic sunscreen would be Coconut oil. That generally sits at about a 4-5 on the scale, blocking around 70% of UVB rays and lasting around 45 minutes before reapplication would be advised. The only positive of a higher SPF than 30 is of human error. We are not good at applying sunscreen. Not at all. Even being careful we are bound to miss a spot. Meaning that coconut oil at 4-5spf could be 1 or zero in some spots. Having a higher SPF may mean those thinner areas would be protected. Always immediately reapply sunscreen after exposure to water.
UVA and UVB rays are the same. Wrong. In layman terms: UVB, sunburn. UVA, skin damage including but not limited to the formation of cancerous cells. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, both physical sun block, are able to block UVA rays and are slower to break down. Chemical and organic sunscreens may not block all or any UVA rays. We are expose to both via sunlight.
Uv damage only comes drom the sun. Another misconception. There are many who say the light from our computers and phones creates a UV damage as well. High energy visible light (HEV) is also found to create shocking percentages of damaging UVA rays to our skin. Remember, UVA rays are not sunburning rays, but deeper damage. You probably won't get a sun burn from your phone light. If the UVA damage is high enough that we should be looking for all day skin care products with physical UV protectants if we are exposed to those devices on a regular basis. Uv lights at nail salons also use, you guessed it, UV to cure our nails. Don't forget tanning beds which provide well above the amount of UV we experience outside and can burn as well as damage deeper layers of skin.
The best sun screen is applied onto the skin. Another misconception Many animals don't have sunscreen! Learn from them. Fabrics designed for sun protection never wear off. You don't have to keep adding clothing every two hours because your sun protectant shirt has become invert (side note, that would SUCK walking around and suddenly your shirt is invisible. 'oh, my apologies. My shirt has become invert.'). Shade doesn't wear off. Tinting windows, wearing a hat, sun protectant specific clothing, avoiding being outside in peak sun hours, finding shade. All of those are great ways to avoid sun exposure. Sun protectant products shouldn't be stand alone, but used in conjunction with additional sun protection all around us. Just like wearing a hat should not be stand alone.
Once you have sun damage, you can never go back. Our skin is fantastic, isn't it? It heals cuts, it sheds. It's advised that everyone always be checked by a dermatologist every year or if any new area of concern arises. We can not undo what has been done. We can help erase some of the physical signs like sun spots but always be aware of your skin's condition. Just because you tanned in the past doesn't mean you have damage so may as well keep on keeping on. Every bit of exposure creates more damage, damage that may cause serious issues down the road. Avoiding it in the future is the best bet.
Running errands is not the same as playing in the sun all day. Wrong. Playing by the pool all day will expose your skin to UV rays, even burns due to reflection. So will running around on the town. The activity does not change that the sun is out, you are out and your skin is exposed. Even in the winter your face is going to suffer. Regardless of what you are doing, sun protection is important.
I look fine so I don't have damage. Wow, wrong. Different skin types, fatty deposits, facial expressions, heritage and facial structure will depend on when or how someone 'wrinkles' or if you develop spots. Just because you don't have freckles (a cluster of melanin to provide some protection from damage), sunspots or wrinkles does not mean you are free of damage. Visible damage is only part of the spectrum. UV rays destroy collagen in the skin, collagen being a main building block of our skins ability to rebuild. Collagen is a large molecular structure protein that can't just be slapped on the skin and expected to absorb. Nor can it easily survive the digestive system when ingested. Sunburns are the result of damage skin, damaged skin structure and damage under the top layer of skin.
Apple Cider Vinegar cures sunburns, NO.
The top layer of the skin then sheds to remove the damage. The skin is dehydrated and in a very delicate state. Even a light pink color to the skin still is considered a burn, and should be treated as such.
Apple cider vinegar is very acidic and contains alcohol. This is not the time to expose week skin to something so strong. Avoid any synthetic and artificial fragrances. Remember this is a period of time that your skin is very damaged. You need to treat it like a little, tiny baby. Anything you put on your skin when it's very damaged like this could result in added sensitivity of the skin or risk of becoming allergic to ingredients. Focusing on fragrance free hydrating products is probably your best bet.
For those of you who love summer sun this summer, I implore you to rethink your skins protection to the sun. Skin cancer rates are high and being found in so many of our younger people. When I heard of a man that died in his 30's from skin cancer, my jaw dropped. 30 years old. That's way to young.
Protect yourselves, protect your children. It's worth the small amount of time to really invest in your largest organ. You are so important, remember that.
Love and Sun blocking all over town,
The Smart Girl in Pants
The Smart Girl in Pants