Sun protection is similar to proper diet. It’s all about a change in lifestyle. It’s not about hitting the gym five days in a row; it’s about opting to walk for 15 minutes to work instead of taking the bus year after year.
Why Sun Protection is so Important
Sun damage plays a crucial role in most skin problems. Consistent sunscreen use will make the most significant difference in your skin’s appearance and health. Many skin problems associated with old age, such as wrinkling, mottled or pigmented skin, actinic keratosis, and skin cancer, are all caused or accelerated by years of UV exposure. If you compare the skin on the inside of the arms that are undamaged by the sun and the exposed outer arms, the difference in the skin’s quality is very noticeable. The outer arms will often show skin damage symptoms that become more pronounced with age: red and brown spots, inflamed follicles, tans, and mottled skin. The pronounced difference in the skin demonstrates the power of long-term sun exposure. Sunscreens, if applied correctly and consistently, can help make up a lot of that difference.
- Sun damage is the single most important environmental factor that leads to premature skin aging, such as wrinkling, pigmentation problems, and mottled skin. In other words, the less sun exposure you have, the younger your skin will appear.
- UV damage is not immediately visible unless exposed to a large amount of sunlight, as is the case with sunburns. However, the damage that may not be immediately evident continues to accumulate as long as you live.
- Overexposure to UV light can cause potentially life-threatening skin cancers.
Habits and Lifestyle
Habits are powerful forces that influence our behavior – they inform our lifestyle. Instead of skincare, consider habits related to general health, such as diet and nutrition, exercise, sleep, alcohol consumption, and smoking. You might notice that people who live healthily do not necessarily work extraordinarily hard in living healthy – they live that way – it’s a part of their lifestyle. Similarly, those who have difficulty are not ignorant of the factors that negatively influence their health; they have difficulty making healthy changes a part of their lifestyle. The challenge is maintaining good habits on an ongoing basis.
Health-conscious people are well aware of the power of habits. It might be something simple and small, like taking a 15-minute walk to work instead of taking the bus in the morning or replacing a chocolate bar with a banana at lunch. The results of these changes are invisible in the short-term but very evident after a year. Sun protection is very similar in that small details add up over the years.
- Small details matter. UV damage is cumulative and continues to add up throughout one’s entire lifetime.
- Consistency is critical. A small but consistent change in habits is far more significant than sudden but short-lived changes.
- It’s important to set reasonable goals whether you are trying to lose weight or protect yourself from the sun. Think long-term and make small but permanent changes that won’t disrupt your current lifestyle too much.
Sunscreens: The most effective anti-aging solution
The regular use of sunscreen is the most efficient way to minimize accumulated sun damage. Although there are other important tips such as wearing protective clothing such as long-brimmed hats, umbrellas, and long sleeves, these are often unpractical on hot summer days. Wearing sunscreen, on the other hand, is easy, inexpensive, and useful. The caveat is that they need to be used regularly. Many people use sunscreens like bug sprays – to be used once a year on a camping trip with the family. While sunscreens are indeed important when you expect to be out in the sun for extended periods, they should be used year-round, regularly, like other skincare products. UV radiation damages the skin year-round, and not just when beaching, skiing, or camping.
Think of sunscreens as part of a skincare routine. Many people have a daily skincare routine that includes cleansing, moisturizing, and toning, and some people use even more complicated systems of skincare daily. If you start thinking of sunscreen use as a part of that routine, it is a relatively easy and inexpensive solution. Considering its effect in preventing sun damage, sunscreens offer great value for their price.
- Regular sunscreen use is the most efficient way to prevent accumulated UV damage.
- Although sun avoidance, wearing long sleeves, wide-brimmed hats, and umbrellas are all excellent and important advice, these tips are often not feasible regularly. Few people want to wear any of these things in hot weather, and avoiding the outdoors is very rarely a reasonable option.
- Choose quality sunscreens. Look for products that offer broad-spectrum protection (protects you from UVA and UVB rays), an SPF rating of 15 or higher.
- Sunscreens are inexpensive compared to other lotions and creams. Sunscreens are the best pound-for-pound purchase comparing it to other cosmetic products.
- Price matters. Sunscreens are not like bug sprays which are used on special occasions like camping. They are to be used daily, so choose a price range you would be comfortable using regularly.
- Personal preference matters. If you do not like the sunscreen’s fragrance or consistency, you will not use the product regularly. Choose a product that you would enjoy using regularly.