I know that on a day like yesterday and today in Chicago, we’re all thinking about sun protection right? If you’re not, you should be. Even in the dead of winter - with recording breaking cold temperatures - if you are going outside, you should be wearing sunscreen. Even if you are sitting inside but near a window, you should be protecting your skin. I haven’t always been adamant about sunscreen but you bet you bottom dollar, at 29, I don’t leave the house without it. It took me about 26 years to realize the importance of protecting my skin from the sun’s damage. Because it took me so long, I am probably going to have a decent amount of issues pop up later in life, but I’m glad that I started later than never.
My family is relatively pasty across the board. German, Irish, Croatian and French heritage doesn’t lend itself to skin that handles the sun well. On my mom’s side, several of us have had suspicious freckles/moles removed or even as bad as actually having skin cancer. I myself, had a dark freckle taken off about 2 years ago that was almost in between my butt cheeks. How does an area of the body like that get a potentially cancerous spot? Tanning beds, my friends.
Probably 4 years after I stopped using tanning beds all together, my dermatologist found that spot. Sun damage usually doesn’t rear it it’s ugly head until much later than the time you initially spent in the sun, which is why it is important to constantly be protecting your skin because the damage isn’t always immediate, like a sun burn, and it is much more difficult to treat than to prevent sun damage.
There are two types of sun rays, UVA and UVB. UVA are the long waves that cause damage into the dermis of the skin (the under layer of skin). Damage from UVA rays includes, reduced collagen production, wrinkles, and skin cancer. UVB rays are the short, “burning” rays. Their damage include tans, burns and hyperpigmentation. SPF only protects against UVB rays, and indicates the amount of time you can spend in the sun before burning. It gets kind of confusing but imagine that your skin normally begins to burn after 10 minutes in full sun without any protection. A 30 SPF sunscreen would provide 30 times the protection of no sunscreen. That means 30 times longer before you start to burn, or in this case, 300 minutes (5 hours). That being said, sunscreen should be reapplied every 80-120 minutes to maintain this protection. A broad spectrum physical sunscreen, containing titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, will fully protect you from both UVA and UVB rays!
While reading a new book, "Ageless Beauty the French Way" I was shocked to learn what the true recommended amount of sunscreen that should be used per application was actually 1 tablespoon for the face and 1 ounce for the body. During the winter months, I really only apply sunscreen to my face, neck, decollete, ears and hands and I can say that I a using nowhere near 1 tablespoon of sunscreen to do so. Honestly, I feel like that actually sounds like an outrageous amount but hey, what do I know? I'm only 1/4 French.
It is very important for everyone to be taking care of their skin and protecting against the suns harmful rays. Ask my boyfriend, the big, tough, football coach that spends endless hours outside with his team several months a year. I have harassed him since probably our first date, or at least the first month of dating, to make sure he is wearing sunscreen at every game and practice! I can tell by his skin that he doesn't always listen to me and is probably not reapplying after the 80 minute mark when I am not around. That's fine, I'll be the youthful looking one, for the both of us! But it isn't just about the superficial look of sun damage, it can lead to some pretty serious implications, so try to do your best and protect the skin you have - it is the only one you're going to get.
Here are a few of the top sun care tips also listed in "Ageless Beauty the French Way":
1. No sun for kids under the age of 3 - keep those babies covered!
2. No sun between 1 and 3 pm. The best time for your skin to spend on the beach is between 5 and 8 pm.
3. Constantly reapply sunscreen (every 80-120 minutes) And buy a new tube/bottle AT LEAST every year. If you're using the recommended amount I described above, you may need a new bottle every week!
4. Hydrate skin before and especially after spending time in the sun.
5. Before sun exposure, prepare skin with antioxidants and eat foods containing vitamin c, e, and zinc. Foods containing these elements are not only helpful to your skin but your overall health - double whammy.