Top three tips to protect your skin as you get older:
1. It’s all about sun safety.
The most preventable risk factor is sun exposure. Practicing smart sun behavior is a critical component of properly protecting your skin as you age. Seeking shade when possible is an easy alternative. We all know to wear sunscreen, but when selecting your sunscreen, be sure to use a broad spectrum and water resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more. Wearing protective clothing like hats, sunglasses and UPF clothing are all healthy behaviors to adopt. Be sure to protect from the top down, paying careful attention to your eyes, nose and lips. Every inch of brim on your hat can reduce your risk of skin cancer by 10%. UPF clothing is the best way to protect your skin from skin exposure, but keep in mind the tighter the weave and darker the color, the better protection it offers.
2. Believe it or not, ingredients do matter.
In reality, it is not the SPF value that makes the biggest difference, but rather the active ingredients. An unstable SPF 100 (especially if it’s expired) will keep you less protected than a mineral SPF 30. When reading labels, pay special attention to the active ingredients.
You don’t need to be a scientist to choose the right sunscreen. There are two main ingredients that are most important. Mineral UV filters (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) are safe and do not harm the skin or seas. Many chemical filters found in most sunscreen products today are absorbed to the blood and may also harm marine environments. Zinc oxide & titanium dioxide are the only active sunscreen ingredients that are considered to be GRASE (generally recognized as safe and effective) by the FDA.
Zinc Oxide & Titanium Dioxide = Good.
Oxybezone and octinoxate have been proven to bleach and harm coral. Coincidentally, these chemicals have been banned in Hawaii starting in 2021. When selecting your sunscreen, be sure to avoid oxybenzone, octinoxate, and homosalate. Just one drop of oxybenzone is enough to kill the coral in 6.5 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Imagine what it’s doing to your skin!
Oxybezone, Octinoxate & Homosalate = Bad.
Antioxidants are important, but why? The sun causes oxidative stress and the formation of free radicals, which are atoms with an unpaired electron. Free radicals are eager to steal an electron from a healthy cell in order to repair themselves. Antioxidants help to prevent free radical damage by donating an electron to an unpaired “free radical” thereby limiting its threat on other cells. All you need to know is antioxidants are important because they stop damage dead in its tracks.
Antioxidants = Good.
Why botanicals? Antioxidants are highly sensitive to light, and can quickly lose efficacy when not properly stabilized. By using active botanicals that naturally contain the antioxidants the skin needs, the antioxidants are released into the skin when applied. It has been proven that when simply adding antioxidants, they often lose their efficacy before even reaching the skin. Botanicals help to ensure antioxidants can do their job.
Botanicals = Good.
3. Not all UV rays are created equal.
There are two types of sun ultraviolet radiation that reach the earth and are harmful to your skin: UVA and UVB. Both can cause skin cancer. Recently, near infrared radiation has been implicated to cause some skin damage, as well.
- UVA rays are the “aging rays” that can prematurely age your skin causing wrinkles and age spots. They can pass through window glass.
- UVB rays are the “burning rays” that are only 5% of UV radiation, but they are the primary cause of sunburn. They are blocked by window glass.
It’s important to note that the sun emits harmful UV rays year-round. Even on cloudy days, UV rays can penetrate the skin. In fact, on a cloudy day, up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can pass through the clouds. Many surfaces actually reflect UV radiation, which is an important consideration, as well. For example, the water reflects less than 10%, sand reflects 15% and snow can reflect up to 90% of UV rays. This is why using sunscreen near and around water is so important and why being resistant is critical. Additionally, tanning beds have been declared to be a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
All in all, to prevent premature aging, you want to practice good sun safety and pay attention to the ingredients in your products. Knowledge is power.
Here’s to you aging gracefully now that you are armed with the right information.