Spring has sprung and the sun is shining upon us as it faithfully does here in the Coachella Valley. Warmer weather means even more outdoor activities to heat us up under the intense desert sun. So break out the margaritas, wide-brim hats and most importantly…the sunscreen!
Not only does protecting your skin with a broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB) of SPF30 or greater help prevent various skin cancers, it helps prevent wrinkles and signs of premature aging.
SPF stands for sun protection factor. This basically means an SPF30 will take your skin 30 times longer to burn than it would have taken without the application. So, if you would normally burn within 10 minutes of exposure, one application of a broad spectrum SPF30 should allow you 300 minutes, or 5 hours, of sun exposure prior to burning.
This sounds great in theory, but then we begin to perspire, rub our faces, the intensity of the rays increase, and little by little your 5 hours of protection has been reduced to 4 then 3 then 2… So please, reapply! Even waterproof sunscreens need to be reapplied often to achieve maximum protection.
I personally suffer from hyperpigmentation and although I don’t burn easily, I can see the sun damage from just a short period of time under the rays with no protection. Just the other day I went out to check the mail, got caught up in a chat with a neighbor before applying my morning dose of sunscreen and almost immediately saw dark splotchy areas on my exposed forehead and cheeks. Yikes! Pass the waterproof sunscreen please! And don’t forget to apply to the lips.
In my plight to convince people of the importance and ease of sunscreen use I’ve come across all sorts of arguments:
Argument 1: Sunscreen makes my skin look purple.
Inorganic sunscreens that contain high amounts of zinc are usually to blame, despite providing excellent protection. Look for titanium dioxide which works as a great block with less of the purple.
Argument 2: Sunscreen doesn’t work for me.
That’s because you aren’t applying enough of it or the SPF is too low. Apply liberally! And despite claims of makeup containing sunscreen, it simply isn’t enough to give you the protection you need.
Argument 3: I don’t burn so I don’t need sunscreen.
Okay, so you are less susceptible to skin cancers than lighter skin types but why take the risk? While you may escape that basal cell carcinoma, do you really want to be the one with the most wrinkles?
Argument 4: I don’t like way it feels.
Some are greasy, some are dry and some are everywhere in between. Don’t be shy. Ask your dermatologist for samples of various sunscreens. I’m a fan of just about anything by Cetaphil, Neutrogena and Anthelios. Blue Lizard is another favorite but I always have to order it online.
There is guaranteed to be at least one product out there that fits you just right. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…especially when it comes to caring for the largest organ of your body: your skin!