The Myth Squad – Do you only need sunscreen when it’s sunny?

My latest mission? To get all of my clothes, makeup and accessories organized. Move the cold weather items needed now to a place within easy reach, store the warm weather things until their needed later. But there’s one item that isn’t getting moved to the back of the cabinet for later use, sunscreen. Believe it or not, sunscreen is one accessory we need year round.

Despite the name; sun, sleet, rain or hail – we should all use sunscreen every single day. (I vote that it it should be renamed to something else like “all weather screen” or “everyday protection.”) Many dermatologists feel this one thing is one of the best things you can do to prevent premature aging. There is a lot less sun in the fall and winter but, your face, neck and hands are still exposed. According to The World Health Organization in the Global Solar UV Index, even on a cloudy day, up to 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can pass through the clouds. In addition, sand reflects 25 percent of the sun’s rays and snow reflects 80 percent of the sun’s rays.

Do you know the difference between UVA and UVB rays? I went to the Merriam Webster Medical Dictionary to answer this question:

• “UVA is radiation that is in the region of the ultraviolet spectrum which is nearest to visible light and extends from 320 to 400 nm in wavelength and that causes tanning and contributes to aging of the skin.”
• “UVB is radiation that is in the region of the ultraviolet spectrum which extends from 280 to 320 nm in wavelength and that is primarily responsible for sunburn, aging of the skin, and the development of skin cancer.”

Protection from both UVA and UVB rays is important. When looking at sunscreen check to make sure it is stable. No, not that it will stand firmly on your pool side table, stability of sunscreen translates into how long it will work. All of us have had a friend that put on SPF 30 and still got burnt to a crisp. The burn relates to the longevity of the sunscreen, it’s stability. Take a look at the percentages of the active ingredients, this tells you the UVA protection you are getting. The higher the percentage the better it is. And checking the SPF rating will tell you what protection you are getting from UVB rays.

Plus, when you skip daily sunscreen you can become more susceptible to brown spots (aka sun spots) on hands and face. This is especially true on left side of your face and hands which receive more exposure to sunlight through the driver’s-side car window. It’s true for me, I do have a few spots sun spots on my left hand from the huge amount of time spent in my car.

Don’t discount the fact that one of the best anti-aging skincare products is sunscreen. Consider this myth busted; everyone should protect themselves and wear sunscreen year round. (And here’s a hint: for maximum effectiveness, let it soak in thoroughly.)

How about it readers? Do you wear sunscreen ALL the time? Or just went you are “sunbathing” like the cutie in the Vintage Coppertone ad? Tell us your favorites…

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Written by hao9703

12 Comments

  1. Avatar of Kellie
    Kellie

    @hao9703 thanks for reminding me of this. I am often so slack on using sunscreen. I am as Jim Gaffigan would say “Beyond the Pale” and a member of the “Pale Force”. So I burn rather easily. But sunscreen often irritates me sensitive, greasy, and acne prone skin. So in the winter I try to get away with not using it. What a silly girl I am! I will try to mend my slacker ways!!

  2. Avatar of Krista
    Krista

    I don’t wear sunscreen in the winter, but I do use a lotion w/ spf on my face, neck, and hands. But I’m “the absence of color” as my hubby once said (thanks, hon), so I try to be careful. I also wear big sunglasses in the winter, too, and I’ve had friends be like, “Why do you wear sunglasses in the winter?, which puzzled me b/c it’s not like the sun disappears during the winter…

  3. Avatar of hao9703
    hao9703

    Personally, I do wear sunscreen every single day. My sensitive skin seems happiest when I purchase moisturizer and sunscreen separately. I mix my moisturizer with the sunscreen on the top of my hand and then let it soak in while I am getting dressed and doing my hair.

    Sunscreen is one of the best things you can do to prevent aging. For me, wearing it also seems to control some redness is my face.

  4. Avatar of Amanda
    Amanda

    Fantastic! @Hao9703 I could kiss you for this article!
    In my former life (aka, before I went back to school) I worked for 5 years as a radiation therapist, meaning I saw and treated every kind of cancer you can imagine. While most people think of skin cancer as “harmless” (unless it’s melanoma, which loves to metastasize straight to the brain- keep that in mind) they fail to realize how disfiguring even the little skin cancers can be! Sure, that basal cell carcinoma is easily treated/cured, but the surgery to remove it can leave some NASTY scars.
    Living in the northeast I see a lot of skiers coming back from a weekend at the mountains. People think it’s winter so no sunscreen needed, but the rays bouncing off the snow are really damaging! Ski burn is nothing to laugh at, even though they do look funny with a raccoon mask of protected skin from the goggles.
    Wearing sunscreen not just helps keep your skin looking young but it can save your life. If you have even the remotest history of burns (like, as a child) or you have a lot of moles/beauty marks, get a good relationship with a dermatologist. Do a skin mapping yearly and have your hairdresser check for moles on your scalp. When you remove your nail polish, check your nails for discoloration (yes, you can get skin cancer underneath your nails). Wear lipgloss/balm with sunscreen. There are even lines of clothing that have SPF (but you should still wear sunscreen underneath them). Light shirts and wet shirts let in nearly the same amount of UV rays as if you weren’t wearing them at all, so apply sunscreen even to the skin you don’t think will see the light of day.

    Besides, pale is the new black! While some promote the sun as a great way to maintain your vit. D levels I say take a vitamin and slap on the sunscreen. Just one of the many reasons I’m “blindingly” pale!

  5. Avatar of Stef Andrews
    Stef Andrews

    @kellie76 – I have the same problem as you, I HATE the way sunscreen feels, like a greasy mask. So I’m on an eternal quest to find one that I can’t feel (or a moisturizer with one).

    I do love tarte Smooth Operator tinted moisturizer: I can’t detect spf at all in that.

    What sunscreen does everyone use, I’m especially interested in what the oily girls like?

    Greta post @holly9703!
    Stef recently posted..Love alert- stila hair refresher

  6. Avatar of Amanda
    Amanda

    @Stef – I have oily combination skin and I use Coppertone Oil Free Faces sunscreen (SPF 30). The foundation I wear has sunscreen in it as well, but I still tote around the “sport” spray-on sunscreen for quick facial SPF refreshing throughout the day. It soaks in well and doesn’t leave a greasy film.

  7. Avatar of Cori
    Cori

    I should use sun screen more. I use it all the time in the summer but for some reason slack off in the winter. I guess it’s because I have more clothes on and don’t think I need it.

    I love the way my sun screen smells. It reminds me of summer days spent out in the sun with a fruity drink in my hand.

    I’ll have to pull out my sun screen and beat the winter blues!

  8. Avatar of irene
    irene

    @hao9703 – you said a mouth full of important things, thanks for the great write-up!I love the sun but for years have been so careful to avoid it- unless I’m wearing sunsreen,a hat and sunglasses! My eye doctor drills that one in my head every year! Protect your eyes too! Even with clouds covering the sun, it still has harmful rays..better to be safe than sorry..

  9. Avatar of hao9703
    hao9703

    @stef- right now I am using a sunscreen from NIA-24 and mix it with Dermalogica Active Moist(it is oil free) or NIA 24 Skin strengthening Serum. I look forward to reading what others are using because right now I am using up what I have and look forward to trying something new.

    I have to be pretty diligent when cleaning my face because of all of the sunscreen and makeup. (If I am not careful, I will have clogged pores in nothing flat.)
    I am a huge believer in DOUBLE CLEANSING. What I do is first use a gentle cleanser to get all of my makeup off. I think of it as helping get the first layer of products off my face. Then, I take my “real cleanser” (Right now that is a handmade tea tree soap.) and lather up my face to actually clean my face. Sometimes I use my Clarisonic during the second cleansing and other times I skip it.

  10. Avatar of katezena
    katezena

    I use sunscreen in summer and a lotion with spf once the temperature drops. It gets reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally cold in ye ol’ Midwest, but I’m always wearing at least SPF 15.

    @stef– I have the same problem too. The only thing that works for me in summer is
    Coppertone® Oil Free Lotion SPF 30. It literally feels like you’re wearing nothing.

  11. Avatar of lipglossandspandex
    lipglossandspandex

    Great article, Holly! :) You did some great research.

    I wear sunscreen every day. I hated the greasy sticky feel of sunscreen on my face, but when my grandpa and close friend bnoth got skin cancer, I decided to go on a quest to find a decent sunscreen! I loved Shiseido’s SPF 55 lotion, because it both mattified and provided lots of sunprotection against both UVA and UVB rays. Unfortunately, it’s been discontinued, and the new SPF 38 and SPF 60 formulas are a touch greasy, but pretty good. I’m currently using MAC Prep + Prime with SPF 50 and it’s not greasy, it’s thin and absorbs easily, and has high SPF. It’s quite spendy though (about $30 for 1 oz), but I’m willing to spend a little more for a decent sunscreen! I do need to be better about wearing lipgloss/lipbalm with SPF though.

    Like Holly, I’m a huge believer in double cleansing. Any sunscreen or makeup on my skin will cause terrible breakouts!

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