Summer months have most, if not all of us, using some sort of sun protection. During this season, UVB rays intensify, causing more of us to burn or tan from the sun. Using SPF and sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and seeking shade is common when the weather is hot and the sun is beaming. What a lot of us don't realize is that UV rays from the sun are almost always affecting our skin in negative ways. Sun protection is a key step in our skincare routines that should never be skipped!
scrub me secret: There is a difference between UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are shorter but stronger rays that cause our skin to burn or develop color. UVA rays are not as strong, but have longer rays that can travel through cloud coverage and overcast skies. UVA rays can damage skin even when the sun isn't out.
There are a few reasons why we need to guard our skin from the ultra violet light. Excessive exposure to UV rays, or intense sun damage from these rays overtime, can sometimes cause skin cancers. Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma are all skin cancers that can be caused by sun damage. UV rays travel to our cells and cause our melanin to produce rapidly and sometimes mutate a skin cell. When a cell has become mutated or decoded by UVB and UVA rays it can create other decoded cells when it multiplies; this essentially is how skin cancer is caused.
scrub me secret: our skin produces melanin as a defense against the sun. Darker pigment is created so the the ultra violet rays cannot deeply penetrate into the dermis of the skin where all the live tissue is.
If protection from cancer isn't reason enough to shield skin from the sun, think about how it is aging you! Damage from UVA rays especially can cause lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. When UV rays penetrate deeply into our skin it damages our skin's proteins like collagen and elastin. When the proteins die, skin becomes less firm and develops lines and wrinkles that will deeply set in skin. Also, sun damage overtimes can cause permanent pigment in localized areas. This is what we often call "liver spots" or "sun spots." These dark markings are commonly not cancerous but can be very difficult if not impossible to fully fade or remove.
scrub me secret: sun spots can appear on skin's surface many years after the damage has occurred. For example, say you got quite a few bad sun burns or tanned a lot throughout the ages of 10-18. Pigmentation spots from the damage may not surface until you are in you mid twenties or thirties!
Sun burns not only cause deep damage to our skin cells that will affect us later in life but they also leave our skin painfully sensitive and raw. After being exposed to excessive sunlight our skin has absorbed so many rays that they will keep affecting skin cells even after you have left the sun. Sun burns, skin sensitivity, and peeling skin may develop 24 hours or more after the sun exposure has occurred.
scrub me secret: Another defense mechanism our skin has against UV damage is the peeling we see after burning and sometimes even after tanning. The shedding cells we see have become decoded and choose to die rather than produce more decoded cells. Those are the dead cells we see shedding from our bodies.
There are many options with it comes to giving our skin the protection it needs from the sun. SPF and sunscreen are the most common forms of sun protection. SPF stands for the "sun protectant factor" that is in the lotion of cream that is to be applied. Sunscreen is a sun protecting lotion that contains defense against UVA and UVB rays. SPF only guards against UVB (burning) rays. A sunscreen with a SPF of 30 means that is can shield your skin for 30 times longer than without sunscreen. For example, if it takes 10 minutes for your skin to burn or pigment without SPF, an SPF 30 is meant to protect for 30x longer which is 5 hours. After this amount of time you should reapply.
scrub me secret: sunscreen itself is also affected by the sun. After about two hours of being in direct sunlight or outside on a sunny day, your sunscreen starts to loose its potency and becomes less effective. If you are out at a pool, beach, or sunny open area you will want to re-apply sunscreen every two hours.
UPF clothing is another way to ensure your skin further protection. UPF stands for "ultraviolet protectant factor" in clothing. A UPF factor of 50 would allow 1/50th of the normal UVA and UVB rays to penetrate. Clothing with a UPF tag or sticker means is has been specifically tested to determine it's UV protection. Other clothing that is not specially UPF clothing can also shield us from damaging rays. Fabrics that are thicker and have a tighter knit act as better armor vs. light fabrics with loose knits. Think denim as opposed to cotton. The more coverage the better when it comes to using clothing as a defense to burning. Taking some shade underneath an umbrella, building, or even tree coverage is a better guard than nothing. However, do be aware that UVA rays (aging rays) can penetrate cloud coverage, windows, and light tree coverage. Also, light rays can reflect and beam onto you from different directions even if you have found some nice shade. It is always best to use as many tools as possible to shelter your skin from the sun.
Forgot your sunscreen or had a bit too much sun? It happens, but there are things you can do to combat further damage from happening and heal burnt skin. Immediately after getting too much sun exposure you should cool and hydrate skin with a water based or water binding moisturizer to get as much hydration back to your cells as possible. Our shea butters are oil based so we always opt for PCA rebalance moisturizer when we are looking for a water base. You also want to sooth the inflammation caused by heat, you can do this by adding a few drops of lavender to your moisturizer. Toners and hydrators with antioxidants are also great because the antioxidants help to slow the damage happening to our cells from the ultra violet rays.
scrub me secret: Most teas have a ton of antioxidants. Topically these antioxidants can help slow or stop damage that is still happening in skin after sun exposure. Try filling a large tea pouch with your favorite antioxidant tea and throw it in your bath!
Use gentle, non abrasive cleansers without exfoliants until your skin heals or becomes less sensitive. scrub me™'s lavender soap bar or toning treatment bar is great for this. Continue using skin care products with antioxidants in order to preserve the collagen and elastin that you have left.
After receiving damage from ultraviolet rays some skin cells can never fully recover. Every sunburn and even sun tan is permanently damaging our skin. Negative effects might not be visible or immediate but that doesn't mean it isn't happening. Healthy, strong skin is what is most important to our bodies. Daily sun protection can save your life and save your future if you want to look young forever! Tomorrow morning during your skin care routine don't forget the sunscreen! Happy scrubbing.