Most people understand the need to wear sunscreen in the height of the summer, but we find far less awareness of the need to continue to wear protection at other times of the year. Even here in Los Angeles, where we are pretty much guaranteed copious sunlight throughout the entire year, there’s a widespread belief that you only really need protection when the sun is burning hot.
Nothing could be further from the truth — damage from the sun’s UV rays is cumulative. Although exposure to high-intensity sunlight is incredibly dangerous, so is continued exposure to the lower intensity sunlight that we encounter throughout the year. Just because your skin may not be burning does not mean that you’re not in the process of damaging it. You can easily damage your skin without necessarily feeling anything untoward happening.
Negative Effects of Sunlight
Although sunlight has many positive benefits on the body, including boosting serotonin and Vitamin D levels and regulating our sleep patterns, sunlight can actually be responsible for a wide range of negative effects.
Excess sun exposure can lead to sunburn, heat rash, premature wrinkles and aging, dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. It can also lead to the development of several different types of skin cancer.
Sunlight is composed of a range of different light frequencies, most of which we see, but several of which we don’t. The ultra-violet (UV) components of sunlight are primarily responsible for damaging the skin. There are two categories of UV rays – longer wavelength UVA rays penetrate further into the skin and are primarily responsible for skin aging; lower wavelength UVB rays don’t penetrate as deeply and are the leading cause of skin burning. Exposure to either UVA or UVB rays can lead to skin cancers.
The intensity of UV light that you’re exposed to depends on several factors, including the season, the time of day, the amount of cloud cover, and your latitude, altitude, and even the ozone level. The EPA even publishes a UV index map of the US, along with a four-day forecast. UVB rays are most intense in the summer and spring; UVA rays are present in all seasons. In addition, UVB rays are present even in cloudy conditions; they also penetrate most window glass types.
We recommend regular application of sunscreen, both as a precaution before exposing yourself to direct bright sunlight, but also as a part of your regular daily routine, year-round. It’s worth stressing that the need to use an effective sunscreen is not limited to when you’re lying on a beach, but is needed when you go about your everyday life, regardless of the temperature, the clothes that you’re wearing, and even if it’s a cloudy day.
Your clothes obviously provide considerable protection. But in addition to protecting your face, don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your neck, shoulders, forearms, hands, legs, feet, and any other body parts that might be exposed. Some people even tan through their clothes, demonstrating that sunlight can penetrate through light clothing.
Sunscreen products have come a long way from the heavy, greasy formulations used to be the only option. You can choose from a wide range of effective sunscreens that incorporate moisturizers, are easy to apply, and are absorbed by the skin. Although a sunscreen’s SPF rating provides a good indication of its effectiveness, you shouldn’t necessarily use this rating as the only way to select a product. A lower-SPF rated product that you’re comfortable using routinely will do you more good than a high-SPF rated product that you only use rarely.
Your Laser Skin Care
Your Laser Skin Care has experience in a wide range of non-invasive cosmetic procedures, including several that can be used to help rejuvenate your skin and help to mitigate the negative effects of too much exposure to sunlight. We can advise the most effective (and cost-effective) ways to help you achieve your cosmetic goals. Our team is also able to evaluate skin damage accurately. Call us at (323) 525-1516 to schedule a free consultation or visit us online for more information.