The 411 On Sun Damage:
Not so fun fact: even on a cloudy day, 80% of harmful UV rays can reach your skin. Just say no to the myth that cloudy = safe!
I am going to start by telling you that I am 100% a sun worshipper. I'm like a lizard. I think I was born cold-blooded, because my natural instincts tell me to go lay out in the sun for most of the day, and retreat under cozy blankets at night. I was on the tennis team in high school, which meant that in the summer, we were on courts that were upwards of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, since the courts get about 15 degrees hotter than the actual air temp. This could be unpleasant at times, but while my teammates were roasting and fainting, I sort of felt like, "wow, it's a bit hot." Then I would drink some ice water and get back to playing. Like, I said...lizard.
I'm saying this because I want to connect with all of the people out there who are like me, and love being out in the sun. I'm not here to make you afraid of the sun; on the contrary, you'll enjoy your time outdoors so much more because you'll have an understanding of all the risks and benefits.
To begin: let's talk about what the sun does to your skin. Remember that blog post I did on LED lights? You can read it here. We talked about allll of the different rays, from gamma rays to x-rays to infrared waves. Basically, if you read that article, you're a scientist now. Congratulations!
The sun emits all of the above rays mentioned, plus more. That's why the sun can have great benefits: just like heading into an infrared sauna, the sun (especially at dawn) can give you the same perks. The downside? The sun is a giant sphere of hot plasma, which is pretty much just as violent as it sounds. This means it has the ability to do some serious damage. Namely, UV aka ultraviolet rays.
So let's break down UV rays. There are three parts:
1. UVA is the most abundant form of UV light we receive (about 95%). It laughs at clouds and car windows and barges right through anyways, causing, horror of horrors, the dreaded "W" word: wrinkles. Take deep breaths, ladies (and gents, if you happen to be reading this. I support you. #weallhaveskin). UVA also causes sun spots. Eeek.
2. UVB is what causes burns, so it tends to cause problems on the surface of the skin more than anything, and it's what gives you a tan. You can remember it this way: UVB for "Burns". UVB is only present on sunny days, unlike UVA, which we now know can cut through clouds and more.
3. UVC is extremely dangerous, but luckily, if you're reading this I'm assuming you're not an astronaut, and only those out in space have to worry about UVC, since it's absorbed by our atmosphere. For now, that is. Remember to reduce your carbon footprint whenever possible! Otherwise, we're all going to be frying in the future. #savetheplanet
If I've freaked you out and your dreams of becoming an astronaut are now crushed, I'm sorry. I don't make the rules. The sun is a pretty amazing thing, and like I said, I LOVE being out in the sun. But, unfortunately, the sun doesn't always love us, especially as our atmosphere continues to erode, and things get more, shall we say, intense. There are basically three things you can do to protect yourself before you get sun damage:
1. Avoid the sun. Become a hermit and/or live in a cave. This doesn't tend to work for most people so let's skip to options 2 & 3.
2. Be careful when you're out in the sun--try to find shaded areas; cover up whenever possible; and when in doubt, at least wear a big hat to protect your money maker aka your face (for the purposes of this article).
3. Wear sunscreen, and replenish it often. Try for SPF 30, and reapply every 1.5-2 hours or so. Supposedly you should be reapplying every 80 minutes, but honestly, trying to time that is irritating. If you're in extremely intense sun where you have to be perfect about reapplication, well, you shouldn't be out there in the first place, so go back inside. If you are, you should be reapplying pretty much non-stop anyways. So although I appreciate the 80 minute rule, if it drives you nuts like it does me, just try to reapply every 1-2 hours and leave it at that.
So that's all the preventative stuff, and it's great and all, but unfortunately, some of us lived in decades where putting on baby oil before laying out by the lake and deep frying our skin was the norm. And once the sun damage has occurred...well, that's one doodle that can't be un-did (kind of. We'll get to that in a minute). That's why that old saying is so true:" an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure". So get your broad spectrum sunscreen going, buy a cute cover-up for days at the pool, invest in a trendy-yet-practical hat, and prevent prevent prevent!
Let's come back to that doodle that I said can't be un-did. I kind of lied. There is an extent where if you've really roasted your skin, it's hard to come back from it. If your entire body is covered in wrinkles and sun spots, it's pretty difficult to completely repair that. HOWEVER. There are things we can do to improve texture, sun spots, smooth wrinkles, and clear other skin discolorations, particularly those on the face.
Since most of us don't walk around in the nude, it's our face, chest, and arms that take the brunt of the sun over the course of our lives. If you do walk around in the nude...well, like I said. Broad spectrum sunscreen is your friend. Otherwise, you do you, boo. But for the purposes of this topic, I'm going to assume you're most worried about your face, neck, chest, and arms. That’s why it’s important to know what you can do to treat sun damage....which will be the next post! Stay tuned! It’ll be in your inbox bright and early next Sunday morning.
Have a great week, lovelies!
Reach out if you have questions using the contact form located on the home page. Questions & suggestions are always welcome. While you're at it, check out my Instagram for more fun tips & tricks, and to say hi!