Soak Up the Sun, Not the Damage

Ahh, the end of summer. This time of year is packed with last-minute beach runs and relishing in the sun as fall peeks its head around the corner.  And even if those September rays don’t feel as scorching as they did in July, it’s not quite time to lighten up on the SPF. Skin health is widely misunderstood and often neglected as the hottest part of the year wanes.


Sun exposure is often encouraged for its benefits on your physical and mental health.  Sunshine is vital to helping curb or prevents depression by increasing serotonin levels. It helps improve your immune system, lessen the risk for type 2 diabetes, and morning sunshine has been shown to improve your overall sleep.


It feels amazing to be out in the sun and reap its life-giving benefits, but too much can cause significant damage or even worse, lead to skin cancer. Practicing safe sun exposure will help you maintain your skin health and preserve your looks.


The problem is that many people don’t prioritize safe sun practices. There is an overall lack of awareness about just how detrimental the sun can be, and it’s important to know that you are not off the hook for wearing sunscreen.  Everyone, everyone, everyone should be wearing sunscreen on a daily basis, yet so many of us don’t. There is no reason why every individual, male or female, of any race, should skip the sunscreen.


Trust me, I can hear your rebuttals now.


But I have dark skin, I don’t need to wear sunscreen.


It is true that nonwhite racial-ethnic groups have a higher natural protection from the sun and are less likely to get burned but skin cancer is still a problem for darker skin tones.


According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “…late-stage melanoma diagnoses are more common in Hispanic and black patients than in non-Hispanic white patients.”


One of the reasons is because there is a lack of awareness around just how dangerous it can be for these skin groups. Because it tends to be less common, people with darker skin tones often get less frequent skin check-up and they believe that their built-in protection is enough. The result is that by the time they find out they have skin cancer, it’s already progressed to a more severe stage.


It’s scary stuff and not to be taken lightly.


But I live in a cloudy place, I hardly ever see the sun!


Those gray clouds are no match for the giant life-giving fireball. UVA rays are able to penetrate through rain, fog, and clouds. Using sunscreen is still vital on overcast days, heck, some people even get sunburned on cloudy days. Not to mention that sometimes it’s only temporarily raining or cloudy within a day. Once it clears up you can be further exposed to the sun if you get caught without SPF.


But I don’t want to walk around with that white cast around my face.


Okay, this one is completely understandable, especially for our darker-skinned friends. Certain formulas, ones especially high in zinc, leave you with a white or purplish cast depending on your skin color, and some of them are nearly impossible to rub in completely.


Luckily, many companies have caught on to how irritating it is, and newer formulations are sheer or shine-free that doesn’t leave a white cast.


Now, there’s no reason to not wear under your makeup or on any other day.


But I’m inside all day.


You’re inside all day? Well, maybe in the case of a wintery all day Saturday Netflix binge you can forgo wearing sunscreen. But for the most part, even when you work inside or stay inside most of the day, you tend to get sun exposure when running around from the car to the house or the store. Over time these moments of sun exposure build up and cause damage without proper skin protection.


Not to mention that you’re not entirely protected in the car or the office. Many windows are UVB protected which keeps you from getting a tan or sunburn, but UVA rays are still able to penetrate. UVA rays are a known cause of premature aging and skin cancer.


No matter the reason, using sunscreen is vitally important even if your lifestyle doesn’t leave you in the direct sun all the time. And if it does, you need to be vigilant about reapplying sunscreen throughout the day and perhaps opting to wear hats and sun-protective clothing.


Okay, I’m convinced. What do I buy?


When shopping for sunscreen the most important phrase to look is “broad-spectrum”. You need to make sure that you’re protecting yourself against both types of harmful rays. UVA rays pass through the epidermis into the deeper layers of the skin and are the culprits for aging and wrinkling.


UVB rays don’t penetrate the skin as deeply but are the main cause of sunburns and even more worrisome, which are what cause skin cancer when overexposed. Swiping on that SPF every morning could be a 30-second lifesaver.






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