Health, Skincare

Reasons to Use Sun Protection

truck driver displaying the affects of uv and sun damage and aging and wrinkles

The Reasons You Need To Use Sun Protection

This is the first post in my sun protection series – literally everything you ever wanted to know about sun protection. This series will go stretch over a couple of weeks in short easy to manage posts so you (and I!) don’t get too bored. But the more I learn about sun damage when it comes to health, skincare and beauty the more I realize HOW IMPORTANT it is and how much I need to stress it’s importance to others. The new “Good Word”.

Lets look at some examples and reasons you need to be using sun protection (not even just sunscreen!) every day.

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1. To Prevent Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common cancer there is.1 1 in 5 people will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their life time.2  3.5 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer in the United States annually3, and 102,000 are diagnosed annually in the UK.4 On average, 1 American dies from melanoma every hour.5 I don’t like those odds. The American Cancer Society claims that protecting yourself from natural and artificial ultraviolet rays alone can prevent more than 3 million cases of skin cancer every year6, and 80% of all melanoma cases in the UK could be prevented by practicing sun safety.7 There are a few different kinds and severity of skin cancer, and contrary to common belief every skin tone is susceptible to skin cancer.

truck driver displaying the affects of uv and sun damage and aging and wrinkles

A truck driver, Bill McElliot, displaying the affects of UV damage and sun damage after 28 years of commercial driving.

2. To Prevent Wrinkles and Sagging Skin

The internet’s favorite example of the importance of sunscreen is this case of a man who was a commercial truck driver.  According to The New England Journal of Medicine, Bill McElliot presented several skin conditions after driving a truck for over 25 years, such as hyperkeratosis, open comedones, nodular elastosis, millia, and dermatoheliosis. This photo kind of puts into perspective how much aging is in our control or caused by genetics. One side of his face shows a disproportionately higher rate of wrinkles, sagging, loss of collagen and skin thickening compared to the other. Once your face starts to show signs of aging, its very hard (if not impossible) to reverse the appearance. When it comes to younger, youthful looking skin or to reduce the signs of aging, prevention and early treatment is key. 90% of wrinkles are directly caused by sun exposure, and the damage caused by UV rays to the dermis can take 20-30 years to show. That’s why wrinkles that start to appear in our 30’s and 40’s are way past help, as the damage was done when we were young and dumb in our teens.

 

Medical: Liver Spots and Hematoma

Medical: Liver Spots and Hematoma

3. To Prevent or Treat an Uneven Skin Tone

To protect itself from the damaging effects of the sun, your skin increases its production of melanin, which is the dark brown pigment that gives your skin it’s color naturally. You already know that your skin does this whenever you get a sun tan or darken after sun bathing. It’s the extra melanin your skin produces in response to sun damage that makes your skin look darker or sun-tanned. In some cases, the sun causes an uneven increase in melanin which produces splotchy coloring of the skin. The sun can also cause a permanent stretching of small blood vessels, giving your skin a mottled, reddish appearance. There is a thing as too much sun.

Solar lentigines, also known as age spots, liver spots or sun spots, are large and dark flat spots of increased pigmentation. They’re usually brown, black or gray and vary in size and shape. They usually appear on areas most exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands, arms, decolletage and upper back. These spots are more common on older adults, and are not exactly the same thing as freckles or moles, but they can also occur in younger people who spend a lot of time in the sun without protecting their skin.

blue-peel-28-month-results-of-chemical-peel1medscar

If you are currently trying to correct an uneven skin tone or you are trying to get rid of post inflammatory hyperpigmentation or acne scars, unprotected sun exposure can set back your progress and actually make your PIH last longer. Your skin creates more melanin in response to sun exposure, so your PIH can get darker or just refuse to fade away the more you expose it to sunlight. Darker skin tones are particularly prone to severe PIH or keloid scarring after acne lesions or injury. To help fade an uneven skin tone or pigmentation, regularly and diligently using sunscreen is the key to helping the pigmentation fade away naturally.

4. To Protect Sensitive Skin

Unlike some other examples or reasons for sun protection, this one will effect you now not 20 years from now. When the skin is sensitive to the sun and the suns affects, it’s called photosensitivity.   Sensitive skin can range anywhere from slight burning or redness when putting on a product to skin peeling off in patches. Using certain products can make your skin sensitive and more vulnerable to the sun’s damage than it would otherwise. Photosensitivity doesn’t just mean a rash or tender skin – it means your skin is more likely to suffer from the above problems because it cannot protect itself. Products that can cause your skin to become photosensitive are; alpha-hydroxy-acids, essential oils, retinols, benzoyl peroxide and certain medications. When using these types of products you need to also be using a sunscreen daily to protect your skin from immediate damage and future damage.

The FDA’s Guide for Industry for testing products for Photosafety

 

The best time to start using sun protection was yesterday, but it’s never too late to start. Even if you think “Oh, it’s too late now” – it’s NOT. You can prevent future damage, aging and wrinkles with every application. Give you skin a break from all the UV battery and just use sunscreen.

 

xoxo Miss C.

 

  1. Guy GP, Thomas CC, Thompson T, Watson M, Massetti GM, Richardson LC. Vital signs: Melanoma incidence and mortality trends and projections—United States, 1982–2030. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2015;64(21):591-596.
  2. Stern RS. Prevalence of a history of skin cancer in 2007: results of an incidence-based model. Arch Dermatol. 2010 Mar;146(3):279-82.
  3. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/sunanduvexposure/skin-cancer-facts
  4. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/type/skin-cancer/about/skin-cancer-risks-and-causes
  5. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2016. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2016.
  6. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2014. Atlanta: American Cancer Society 2014
  7. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/sun-uv-and-cancer/how-the-sun-and-uv-cause-cancer
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