Let’s admit that we have a love-hate relationship with the sun.

We love the sunkissed tans and dread the sunburns. But aside from this seasonal love-hate relationship, we oftentimes forget to think about how the sun ages our skin overtime. Let me advise that when it comes to your skin, you never want to have a “little too late” moment.

So let’s review basics.

That beaming sunlight that we enjoy by the poolside is composed of Ultra-Violet (UV) light. When light reaches our skin, it is delivered by light particles, called photons. These photons travel through waves of light at different wavelengths. UVA is a long-wavelength light that is capable of penetrating to the deepest layers of our skin. This powerful lightwave is even capable of passing through glass, which is why appropriate sunglasses are essential! UVB light is a short-wavelength light that reaches the more superficial layers of the skin, which attributes to those sunkissed tans and rosy red sunburns.

Sunscreens are composed of protective compounds that reduce the number of UV photons that penetrate the skin.

These compounds cause photons to scatter or absorb, and overall, this reduces the sun’s harmful, aging effects. SPF (Sun Protection Factor) determines the amount of UV photons that are allowed to penetrate our skin surface. For instance, SPF 10 allows 1 out of every 10 light photons to penetrate our skin, where SPF 20 allows 1 out of every 20 light photons to penetrate, thus reducing the amount of photons penetrating our skin layers. When it comes to SPF, the higher the number, the more protective the sunscreen.

The type of sunscreen that is preferred for the summer months is a broad-spectrum sunscreen cream with a minimum SPF 30 for thorough protection against UVA and UVB photons.

The most effective sunscreens will be mineral-based including active ingredients, Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, that absorb UVA in addition to UVB. Be sure to apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before sun-exposure and should be reapplied about every 1 or 2 hours, preferably every 1 hour if you are swimming. For sunglasses, choose a 99% or 100% UV absorption to protect your eyes from the stronger UVA light photons.

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