Is The Sun Doing A Number On Your Skin?

If you can’t be bothered to read this post and simply want to take away the quick answer to the above question, then the answer is ‘yes’. No doubt about it.

For the rest of you, thanks for hanging in there and may we present you with a gold star for wanting to know more about the damaging effects of the sun? Because, let’s face it, there are many.

The worrying truth is that even though we couldn’t survive without that six-billion-year-old ball of fire in the sky, it’s responsible for 90 percent of skin damage. Not 50 percent, not even 70 percent, but a staggering 90 percent. So, next time you blame your mom for your premature crow’s feet or patchy brown cheeks, you should probably bite your tongue and look skyward for the real culprit.

Why? Well, it’s all down to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. While UV only makes up for around 10 percent of sunlight, it’s the most damaging part of the electromagnetic spectrum that penetrates the earth’s atmosphere. In short, UV dries out the skin, breaks down collagen and elastin, causes melanin to go into overdrive (hello, melasma) and damages the DNA in your skin cells which leads to fine lines, wrinkles or more seriously (but thankfully, far less common) skin cancer.

The number one rule when it comes to winning the battle against these wicked UV rays is to protect, protect, PROTECT. Here’s how to do so like a true skincare pro…

1. Always protect your skin with a medical-grade, broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30. What does ‘broad-spectrum’ mean? That it protects your skin from both UVA and UVB radiation, which is super-important. And if you think you can get away without wearing sunscreen in the winter? Think again. Contrary to popular belief, clouds do NOT stop UV from hitting your skin.

Try: Alastin Skincare HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36

2. How much sunscreen is enough?

For everyday protection, simply apply generously and carefully all over your face and neck.

When you’re on the beach or by a pool, you should apply one ounce of sunscreen to your entire body, which is the equivalent of a full shot glass. If your body is longer or more robust than average, more is always better. And for your face, you’ll need a generous teaspoon.

3. After applying sunscreen, allow for a good 20 minutes before setting foot in the sun. Reapply every two hours and remember, even if your sunscreen is marked ‘water resistant’ this does not mean it’s ‘waterproof,’ so it’ll still only last for around 90 minutes.

4. Photodamaged lips are very common because, while most of us are fairly astute with our facial sun protection, the mouth often gets passed by. Couple this with the fact that, unlike the rest of the skin, lips are not blessed with sebaceous glands to naturally moisturize them and frankly, they stand no chance against the sun. The lower lip, in particular is prone to skin cancer, so prevention and protection is key at all times.

Try: EltaMD UV Lip Balm Broad-Spectrum SPF 31

5. To keep your hands from looking older than your face, keep a bottle of sunscreen in your purse. We love SkinMedica Essential Defense Mineral Shield Broad Spectrum SPF35, which also contains plus brown spot-reducing vitamin C.  Oh, and while we’re on the subject of forgotten body parts, for beauty’s sake, never forget to protect your ears, scalp and eyelids. Falling asleep in the sun and waking up with burnt eyelids is neither fun, nor funny.