Here in the Southern hemisphere, we are heading into Summer rapidly. Though I do have to say that we have been having cold rainy weather here in Jo'burg every second day or so.
Now I know a lot of you are going on holiday soon, and you are getting ready to soak up the sun and play in the ocean. When packing your travel bag, it is important not to forget sunscreen and after-sun lotion. During this warmer time of year it is especially important to protect our skins from the sun's rays, because more of our skin is exposed to the sun (you were planning on running around in your bikini, right?). So today, we're talking about sunscreen!
Sunscreen (also known as sunblock or sun tan lotion) is a product that prevents the skin from being damaged by the sun's UV (ultraviolet) rays, by absorbing or reflecting some of them. Many sunscreens actually have a skin darkening agent in them, like a self tanning lotion, to help the skin get that tanned look, minus all the UV exposure.
Why is UV rays bad for you? Simply because UV rays can cause different types of Cancer when the skin is over exposed to them. Overexposure can also cause premature aging in the skin. Now you get two types of UV rays, UVA and UVB. UVB is the one that causes sunburn. It is partially blocked by the Ozone layer, but enough of it gets through to cause sunburn. The more times you get sunburned in your life, the higher the risks for skin Cancer becomes. UVB is absorbed by the epidermis layer of the skin.
UVA is directly absorbed by the dermis layer of the skin. UVA rays is the cause of a lot of controversy, because a lot of sunscreens don't actually block these rays. So the consumer thinks they are protected, while they are actually being exposed to large amounts of UVA rays without knowing it. Look for the following agents in the ingredients list of your sunscreen to know if you are protected : titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which repels or reflects the rays from them. UVA rays can also move through glass and water, so don't think you are protected in the pool! The water can actually act as a 'magnifier' and the damage done while in water can actually be worse.
You should apply sunscreen 15 minutes before you go into the sun, and again when you are outside for the best results. After that, it should be reapplied every two hours, or after your swim. You can actually get a worse sunburn if you don't do this, due to the free radicals which are released when the skin absorbs the sunscreen.
Don't think UV rays have gone on vacation if it's Winter where you are! Heat has nothing to do with it. UV rays are a all-year-round thing, and you should wear sunscreen even in the cold seasons. I wear a day cream that has an SPF of 15 every day of my life, though I usually forget to apply sunscreen to my arms and chest when I go out. :)
SPF? Sun protection factor is a scale on which we measure how much protection we have against the sun using percentages. For example, a sunscreen with 15 SPF, will block about 93% of UV rays, and one with SPF 50, about 98%.
Don't think you are safe if you are darker skinned! Though darker skin is better protected against UV rays, it does still absorb some, so you should be using a sunscreen, even if it is only a light one.
Now, the sun helps our bodies produce Vitamin D, but sunscreen prohibits this production. So you need yo be exposed to the sun for roughly 15 minutes each day without sunscreen to allow your body to produce Vitamin D.
OK, class dismissed. Haha! Hope this helps you choose a sunscreen, or motivate you to actually use one! Protect your skin now, and look younger and healthier later, or something like that.
Just as a footnote here, I want to mention that my friends from LF Photography have been working really hard on changing the companies image, and I have been working really hard to change their website! Please go have a look, and let us know what you think! Also, help them out by subscribing to their blog, it really is just a click away, and they have awesome stuff for you to check out there!