Summer has arrived and people are beginning to think about the sun now more than any other time of the year. However, sun damage can happen at any time of the year, rain or shine. It can happen all year long and adds up over time as well. Most people don’t consider the exposure they get from driving a car (or even being a passenger), working near a window, walking the dog around the block or relaxing on a shady deck.
What is the difference between UVA and UVB rays? A good way to remember is the A in UVA represents Aging. The B in UVB represents Burning.
UVA rays are constantly present, no matter the season or the weather. UVA rays used to be considered relatively safe, in terms of the sun’s rays, and that’s why tanning beds, which use UVA rays, took center stage. But we know that using tanning beds before the age of 30 can actually increase your risk of skin cancer by 75%! UVA rays are the rays responsible for the signs of aging because they are able to penetrate much deeper into the surface of the skin, damaging the cells beneath. While people think their skin looks younger because it’s tan, the reality is each tan is giving your skin irreversible damage, and you will see its damage later in life.
UVB rays are the rays you can blame when you get sunburn. Unlike UVA rays, these rays aren’t always the same strength year round – They’re more prevalent in the summer months, however they are able to reflect off of water or snow, so it’s always important to protect yourself year-round. UVB rays are responsible for causing most skin cancers. While large doses of UVA rays can contribute to cancer, it’s the UVB rays that are commonly to blame. If you’ve heard the advice to stay out of the sun though the mid day hours, it’s the UVB rays you’re trying to avoid. They are most prevalent mid day, so if you must be out at that time, protect your skin.
It is estimated that 80% of lifetime sun exposure occurs before the age of 18 so starting sun protection in childhood is a great practice and can be helpful later in life.
The signs of sun damage happen slowly and will worsen over time. Damage can appear as brown spots on the face, neck, hands, and lines on the forehead around the eyes, nose and mouth. This can increase the potential for skin cancers. While fair skinned people are considered most at risk for sun damage, it should be noted that dark skinned individuals are not immune to the harmful rays of the sun as well. Protection is prevention so consider making sunscreen a part of your daily routine. You should be sure your sunscreen has a SPF of at least 15 or higher and state protection for UVA as well as UVB rays. Most of them will be labeled “broad spectrum” that fall into that category. Haven currently carries Coola Organic Moisturizing Sunscreen at a 50% discount for the body and the face. Time to stock up now before heading out on vacation.
Here are some other ways to protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. Use an SPF under your makeup daily. Elemis Liquid Layer is a lightweight physical barrier sunscreen that can aid in protection with a SPF 30. You should seek shade from 10am to 4pm when the ultraviolet rays are strongest. Forget about using tanning beds as this can increase melanoma by 70% in those using it before the age of 25. A better option may be to consider using salon spray tans, home tanning creams or bronzing make-up for a sun kissed look. If you must be in the sun, especially for extended periods of time, wear a wide brimmed hat, protective clothing and sunglasses. Reapply sunscreen as needed through the day (especially after swimming and perspiring) to avoid sunburn. Remember to keep yourself hydrated internally as well to avoid overheating. See your dermatologist regularly for full body checks (at least annually) or if you notice any new skin spots or changes in existing spots (size, border, and color).
Maintain your skin regularly with facials and/or body exfoliations at least once or twice a month. These will aide in keeping your skin cleansed and moisturized. If you happen to over indulge in the sun, Elemis S.O.S. Emergency Cream will be your lifesaver. This moisturizer is formulated to provide the most effective solution for stressed or irritated skin and will help to restore your skin to a natural balance. Stop by Haven and The Spa at Fearrington for more information on products and book your spa treatments today. A healthier you is a happy you.