APRIL 6, 2020

Written by Stephanie Powers

by @_stephaniepowers_

Yes, every day. Yes, inside. Yes, during the winter. Yes, when it’s cloudy. The most important product you can use is SPF, but why? This isn’t about squashing your fun or ruining your makeup, but this is an issue that affect everyone regardless of age or skin color. I have heard every justification for not wearing SPF, and I’m not the kind of esthetician that wants to shame people, but I also feel like I have an ethical obligation to press the issue because sun exposure can lead to skin cancer and premature aging. If you’ve been curious about why professionals won’t let this go and how light actually affects your skin (yes, all light) then read on.

First of all, let’s talk about Ultraviolet radiation (UV rays). 

Figure 1

UV radiation in ambient sunlight is composed primarily of UVA and UVB energy. Most UVC is absorbed by the ozone, therefore although it is highly bioactive, terrestrial organisms are not exposed to significant levels of UVC. UVB can cause direct damage to DNA and reach the epidermis. UVA can penetrate the dermis and increases levels of ROS that indirectly induce DNA mutagenesis.(1)

What does all of this mean? UVB is the one that makes your get all pink and let’s you know its damaged your skin, but UVA is more sinister in that it bypasses the surface layers of your skin and so you don’t notice that you’ve been exposed, and then causes oxidative stress that leads to DNA damage. UVA and UVB are emitted from all sorts of light sources including indoor lights, and UVA breaks through cloud cover, through windows and is generally haunting your unless you are in the dark. SPF is a shield that you wear all the time to protect your skin, no matter what kind of exposure you’re getting.

Here’s how UVA causes aging though oxidative stress:

  • Your skin gets exposed to UVA and causes oxidation and
  • Oxidation causes free radical damage as electrons are stolen from each other in a frenzy of instability
  • Your skin gets so focused on repairing the damage that the free radicals caused your DNA, that your cell has to halt its normal activities and go into repair mode,
  • If you do this over and over, your cells can’t ever make up for the lost time and get back to doing it’s normal cell functions
  • Over time this causes cells that don’t function properly
  • These dysfunctions compound and ultimately lead to cells who basically forget who they are and what they are supposed to be doing
  • The forgetful cells (senescent cells) basically fuck you over 7 ways to Sunday(2)

At this point things start to get pretty complicated and messed up, but the breakdown starts with light. Want to stop your skin from getting damaged and slow down skin aging and general skin weirdness? Control your light exposure. 

I curated my whole skincare selection and only carry the products that I love and highly recommend. Here is one of my favorite face SPFs (but I love all of the SPFs on my website and it really depends on what you like because the best SPF is the one you use:

IsClinical Extreme Protect SPF 30

EXTREME PROTECT® SPF 30 provides extraordinary protection by combining broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection and powerful antioxidants to mitigate oxidative solar damage. Featuring micro-fine zinc oxide and microencapsulated organic active sunscreens, EXTREME PROTECT SPF 30 offers advanced sun protection. 

I like this one because its really moisturizing but doesn’t cause breakouts, it’s glossy and I’m into that, it has lots of antioxidants to help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress from any rays that break through, and it doesn’t have any silicones (which aren’t bad, but they aren’t for everyone)

Here are some helpful tips from the AAD (3) about SPF and reapplication:

  • Most people only apply 25-50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen.
  • Apply enough sunscreen to cover all skin that clothing will not cover. Most adults need about 1 ounce — or enough to fill a shot glass — to fully cover their body.
  • Don’t forget to apply to the tops of your feet, your neck, your ears and the top of your head.
  • Apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before going outdoors.
  • Skin cancer also can form on the lips. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • When outdoors, reapply sunscreen approximately every two hours, or after swimming or sweating, according to the directions on the bottle.

Ok folks, I guess that’s all for now. I get asked for lots of information, but honestly I think too much information can almost have a paralyzing effect, so I’ll leave you with this:

Wear your SPF every day no matter what for beauty and health.

1) Amaro-Ortiz A, Yan B, D’Orazio JA. Ultraviolet radiation, aging and the skin: prevention of damage by topical cAMP manipulation. Molecules. 2014;19(5):6202–6219. Published 2014 May 15. doi:10.3390/molecules19056202

2) Wang AS, Dreesen O. Biomarkers of Cellular Senescence and Skin Aging. Front Genet. 2018;9:247. Published 2018 Aug 23. doi:10.3389/fgene.2018.00247

 3) Spot Skin Cancer. American Academy of Dermatology website. https://assets.ctfassets.net/1ny4yoiyrqia/4xAHF2HbKPsmHnL0CTZcFS/b5e2a00d2376dc596088f764e8a1f0f0/Sunscreen_FAQ_5-19.pdf. Accessed April 6, 2020.

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