Spring is upon us and the cold weather is slowly retreating. If you haven't already lifted your face to soak in the sun's warm rays, you will be soon, as summer is just around the corner. But you all know that with the wonderful life that thrives when the sun decides to break through the clouds there is also the risk of sunburn and maybe eventually skin cancer. Ultraviolet radiation is proven to be a cause of cancer so sunscreen that absorbs or blocks those harmful rays from your skin should practically be an extension of your body and you should apply some every day. With more than 25 years of experience in dermatologic surgery and dermatology, Dr. Janet Prytowsky weighs in and provides valuable information to consider as you make decisions about sunscreen.
Moisturize: Throughout the winter months, maybe your skin was a little ashy and dry, nearly all the moisture sucked away. Now, as you expose your skin to the warmth and humidity in the air, your skin is starting to recover by shedding the dead, dry skin and turning over new skin cells. It's important to keep your skin moisturized to help your skin heal and to mitigate the stress on your skin. "It takes the skin a full month to cycle in all new cells so it will take a while for those damaged dried out cells to turn over," Dr. Prytowsky said.
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Sunscreen type: When you stand in the front of the sunscreen display, you might experience anxiety about what kind of sunscreen to buy. The options are plentiful and there isn't necessarily a right or wrong answer, as long as you apply enough sunscreen as frequently as you need to. Dr. Prytowsky suggests using mineral sunscreens (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) like Aveeno® Natural Protection Lotion Sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens aren't absorbed into the skin and to the bloodstream like chemical sunscreens, which helps eliminate potential risk for unknown, long-term effects. Dr. Prytowsky has found that the mineral sunscreens tend to work better, too. She also suggests talking to your dermatologist about purchasing EltaMD sunscreen.
SPF Ratings: Sun protection factor (SPF) is the rating given to sunscreen based on, theoretically, how long you can stay in the sun before you burn. Say you are fair skinned and would burn after just 15 minutes outside without sunscreen. If you apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30, theory states you would be able to stay outside for 450 minutes (7.5 hours). Dr. Prytowsky emphasizes that most people don't apply enough sunscreen for that theory to hold true. She recommends that you divide that number in half to account for the thinner layer of sunscreen you likely apply, meaning an SPF of 30 would allow a fair skinned person to be outside with limited skin damage for 3.25 hours. The SPF rating is independent of your skin type and you might have to do a little math to figure out what you need. Everyone, no matter how dark or light their skin color, is susceptible to skin damage and, in turn, skin cancer, although fairer skinned individuals might have a higher frequency compared to darker skinned people.
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At the end of the day, taking the time to moisturize and apply the correct amount of sunscreen at the correct rating will help reduce wrinkles, dark spots and surgical scars in addition to reducing your risk for skin disease and harm from ultraviolet rays. Keep in mind that sunscreen isn't the only protection you should utilize to protect your skin. Covering your skin is always your best bet and sometimes it's worth it, even if you don't get the chance to show off your bikini body. Smart decisions about your skin will help mitigate the risk for complications later in life.