Sun damage is the culprit in over 90% of premature skin aging cases.
Our skin remembers every abuse. The dreaded wrinkles and age spots are the results of cumulative unprotected sun exposures when we were younger. The best regimen to delay aging is to apply sunscreen daily.
Many will find it difficult to make sense of sunscreen labels. What do SPF, PA, broad-spectrum, water resistant, UVA and UVB mean? Let us sort out the facts about sunscreens so you’ll be able to decide wisely.
Sunscreens keep the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB) from penetrating our skin. Too much exposure to UVA and UVB rays will cause our skin to darken, burn, age prematurely, and develop cancer.
There is a common belief that the SPF (sun protection factor) number tells us how many hours we can stay in the sun. It does not! SPF is a measure of how effectively the sunscreen
will block UVB rays. SPF 15 sunscreens will filter out 93 percent of UVB rays; SPF 30, 97 percent. No sunscreen will block 100 percent of UVB rays.
Interestingly, the SPF is not the more important factor in a daily use sunscreen. SPF does not refer at all to wrinkle-causing UVA rays.We should look for the PA star rating to make sure the sunscreen is broad-spectrum and will block UVA rays too. PA comes in three protection ratings as PA+, PA++, with the highest at PA+++.
Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going out. When going for a swim or to the gym, a “water resistant sunscreen” won’t wash off as easily as the “daily use” type. When swimming, we need to reapply sunscreen every two hours, or as soon as we come out of the water or towel off.
Please note that “waterproof” claim on sunscreen labels is no longer allowed by the USFDA. Instead, “water resistant” should be the correct claim. There is really no such thing as a “waterproof” sunscreen.
It’s never too late to start the sunscreen habit but it’s best that we start as early as we can. Children over 6 months can already wear sunscreen.