Most of us know the importance of wearing sunscreen in the summer months to avoid sunburn and damage, but it really should be a year-round preventive health measure. Always wear sunscreen, no matter your skin color or tone. Sunscreen dates back to ancient Egypt, where rice bran extract and jasmine were used to help shield skin from the sun. Chemists invented the first commercial sunscreen in 1936, and it has been improved upon ever since. Modern sunscreens are water resistant, and are included in many cosmetics and beauty products, such as primers, foundations, serums, and creams.
The Benefits of Wearing Sunscreen, Even on Cloudy Days
Up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays can pass through clouds, so if you assume it’s OK to forgo protection on an overcast day, think again. Sunscreen is an important preventive health care habit that should be maintained all year, including the winter months. Snow can reflect up to 80 percent of ultraviolet (UV) rays, increasing your risk of exposure to sun damage. Also, the higher the altitude, the greater the UV exposure, so sunscreen is crucial for family ski vacations, too. When in doubt: always wear sunscreen!
Here are the top five sunscreen benefits, and why it should be a daily habit year round:
- It Protects Your Skin from UV Rays: The depletion of the ozone layer has increased our risk of sun damage from harmful UV rays. Sunscreen blocks these rays, greatly reducing the likelihood of sunburn. Look for products like those from Goddess Garden with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 15 (some doctors recommend nothing below 30), and use each and every day. For full body coverage you’ll want to apply about an ounce.
- It Lowers Your Skin Cancer Risk: Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 71,943 people were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin in 2013, and 9,394 of these cases were fatal. By applying sunscreen each day, you cut your risk of contracting skin cancers in half.
- It Prevents Premature Aging of the Skin: Sun damage from UV rays causes photoaging of the skin, which is characterized by a thick, leathery look; discoloration; and a breakdown of collagen, which contributes to lines, sagging and wrinkles. Studies show that those below age 55 who apply sunscreen regularly have 24 percent less chance of developing these signs of aging than those who don’t.
- It Helps Maintain an Even Skin Tone: Sunscreen helps prevent discoloration and dark spots from sun damage, helping you maintain a smoother and more even skin tone.
- Your Chances of Skin Cancer are Higher if Your Hair is Red: Scientists used to think the reason for this increased risk was due to the fair skin tone of redheads. In 2013, however, researchers discovered the MC1R gene mutation which creates red hair and fair skin. This mutation also creates a cancer causing pathway which, when exposed to UV radiation, promotes a genetic propensity towards cancer.
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