AS THE summer sun warms, protecting your skin from sunburn and UV damage should be a hot priority. Applying sun cream to your skin with a high SPF may seem like a good idea, but do take time to read the ingredients in your sunscreen as many of them contain questionable ingredients that can have adverse effects on your skin and body, like allergic reactions and premature aging.
Luckily, not all SPF products are harmful, and not all sunscreens are created equal. There are two categories: Physical sunscreen, or sunblock, contains natural minerals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that cover the surface of skin to physically block or reflect broad spectrum of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.
It is important to use a good quality of physical SPF products, as other sunscreens can be thick and messy to apply, sometimes leaving a white sheen and residue that can clog pores and require scrubbing and rubbing to remove.
Chemical sunscreen, contains synthetic ingredients which are absorbed into the skin to filter and absorb UV rays, effectively protecting deeper layers of skin.
Because it is absorbed, chemical sunscreen can lead to skin irritation and other adverse reactions. Plus, the ingredients can generate cell-damaging free radicals when exposed to the sun causing pre-mature aging of the skin.
A 2013 study concluded that the everyday application of sunscreen can slow or temporarily prevent the development of wrinkles and sagging skin.
The study involved 900 white people in Australia and required some of them to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day for four and a half years.
It found that people that did so had noticeably more resilient and smoother skin than those assigned to continue their usual practices. The shorter UVB rays are those that cause burning and play a key role in the development of skin cancer, are strongest during the summer between 10am and 4pm.
But UVA rays which are present during all daylight hours throughout the year, even on cold, cloudy days contribute to the development of melanoma.
And the damage doesn’t stop there. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the dermis, where they break down elastin and collagen fibers causing prematurely wrinkled, sagging skin. Always make sure to apply your SPF on a daily basis not just in the Summer but all year round.
Mary Ferry is the proprietor of the Genesis Skin Care & Laser Clinic in Upper Dore, Bunbeg. Tel 07495 32575, www.genesissalon.ie. If you have a query you would like answered in Mary’s column confidentially, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org