Think sunscreen is just for summer or “when you are in the sun”? You are exposed to UV light anytime it is daylight including winter, spring, summer, and fall. Most sun damage occurs from exposure to the sun during daily activities like driving, walking down the street, and sitting close to windows at home or work. UV protection is necessary for all skin types every day of the year.
UVA rays account for most of the UV rays that hit the earth. They are present all year round and because they are a longer wavelength, they penetrate deeper into the skin. This then leads to damage that translates as “aging” of the skin. UVA penetrates through glass and clouds and can also contribute to skin cancer.
UVB rays penetrate the skin more superficially but don’t think they are safer. UVB are the burning rays and trigger cell damage that leads to skin cancer at a higher rate. These account for about 10% of the light that hits the earth and there are more UVB rays that hit the earth during summer.
Just because you had fun in the sun when you were young, doesn’t mean it is too late to start protecting your skin. Sun damage is cumulative. It is like a barrel of water. As the “barrel” (your skin) fills up with “water” (sun exposure) it becomes fuller until it reaches the tipping point and the barrel overflows (UV damage = skin cancer and aging). This will then begin to present as pre-cancers, cancer, and pigmentation abnormalities including melasma, wrinkles, fine lines, wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and other skin irregularities. At any point that you begin to protect your skin with SPF, it will be beneficial to the health of your skin.
HEV light is another wavelength emitted by the sun and it is all the buzz lately. HEV is the blue light that is emitted from the sun and electronic screens. This light plays a role in regulating our circadian rhythm (our sleep-wake cycle). When emitted from devices, it can have a negative impact on our sleep-wake cycles depending on what time of day we are exposed to the light. HEV light can reach deep layers of the skin. Research has only just started on determining the effects on our skin. There does seem to be some evidence that HEV light can affect darker skin tones that have pigment irregularities. Many SPFs now have HEV protection. Because we are on our devices so much, having HEV protection may be a wise choice.
It is important to understand that light is all around us. The photons of light are all around us, like a gas would be, regardless of if you are in “direct” sunlight or not. So even if you think you are protected in the shade, there is a good chance you are still getting exposure if you are out in daylight.
Although you cannot see the damage happening (unless you get a visible sunburn), the damage is being done. The earlier you start prevention, the better. Protect your precious DNA and prevent irregular cell formation by simply wearing a broad-spectrum SPF of at least 30 to 50 each day. Be sure to apply a generous amount and always reapply after 2 hours or after swimming or sweating. And remember if you are within several feet of a window- UVA rays will reach you.
Here at ASA, we have numerous excellent SPF options for all skin types. Let us help you to pick an SPF that is esthetically pleasing, and you will enjoy wearing every day. If you would like to learn more about our SPFs, or to schedule a skincare consultation, contact us here!