Despite the link between sunbathing and skin cancer, many just can’t give up their tanning habits. This is especially true here in Los Angeles where the weather is temptingly sunny most of the year and the sun’s rays are more intense. The rate of skin cancer cases per capita is also much higher here, yet it doesn’t seem to deter most sun-worshippers. Over 80 percent of L.A. beach-goers surveyed last year equated being tan with looking thin and beautiful, but looks can be deceiving. Any dermatologist will tell you, tanned skin is actually a sign of damaged skin.
Unfortunately, people who dart in and out of the sun all day are more susceptible to this kind of damage than habitual tanners since most don’t use any sun protection at all. Sunlight can affect the skin with each unprotected exposure and its damage builds up cumulatively. The key is to know how best to protect skin when heading outdoors for even the shortest amount of time.
While floppy hats, umbrellas, Jackie O. sunglasses and loose-fitting kaftans work well at keeping harmful rays at bay, they aren’t exactly practical for everyone’s daily life. Applying sunscreen is a vital step in not only protecting your skin from further damage, but scientists have reason to believe it could also help reverse some of the damage done in the past.
An SPF of 15 means skin can be exposed for five hours, 15 times 20 minutes, without burning. An SPF 25 sunscreen will provide just over eight hours of protection, and so on. However, while these work to keep UVB rays from burning the skin, some UVA rays can still penetrate and cause major harm.
What SPF is Right for Your Skin Type? How often Should You Reapply?
Fair-skinned people who burn more easily should wear a higher SPF, anywhere from 20 to 40, every day to better protect them from damage.
Sensitive-skinned folks should always do a patch test to prevent all-over irritation from high SPF creams.
No matter your skin type, the sunscreen you choose should also carry a four-star UVA rating so you know you’re being protected from everything the sun throws at you.
Whether you go swimming or stay on land when at the beach, always reapply sunscreen every two to three hours to give your skin the best protection possible.
Avoid After-Sun Creams
Don’t waste money on creams that promise to reduce peeling after sunburns, as peeling is skin’s method of repair and nothing should stop the natural process of shedding dead cells. Unless, of course, you want your skin to resemble a rhino’s that is.