If you’re a fan of the Discovery Channel I’m sure you must have seen some of the facts on how the sun is vital for life as we know it, how sunspots and sun flares make our lives more difficult and how the sun is going to be around for a lot longer than us. Fascinating stuff!
And, of course, if there’s no sun, there’s no tanning for all of us sun-worshippers. Yes, we know we should be more careful but when there’s glorious sunshine outside not even the best TV program is going to keep us indoors.
I’m quite sure, however, that we’ve all learned from personal experience that you can’t get cheeky with the sun. I’ve always slathered on the sun screen regularly over the years. It’s not that I’m such a goody-goody, I’ve just learned from bitter experience (and I’m a real baby when it comes to pain). Besides, sunburn will interfere with all those other things you want to enjoy on holiday.
Some more butch guys tend to forget or ignore that they could get sunburned and by evening they have painful burns wherever they were exposed. Some rather sensitive spots have been known to be quite untouchable for a few days. Not a pretty sight!
Come on, it’s not that difficult or time consuming, so slap on the sunscreen and be done with it. Whether you’re showing off your best assets at the pool or beach, watching rugby, screaming down a mountain on your bike or being cool driving with the top down in your new sports car, cover up darling, it’s the right thing to do.
Your skin type
People with fair skin need to be more aware of re-applying sunscreen during the day because they’ll burn faster and, as they perspire or swim, some of the protection will be lost.
If your skin is darker and you normally don’t burn, don’t think you’re off the hook! You still need to use sunscreen to protect against sun damage that will only show up years later and cost you a lot of time and money to repair! (Grandma was absolutely correct when she said that prevention is better than cure.)
The sun’s rays
The sun’s ultraviolet rays are divided into two types. These are UVA and UVB light.
UVA rays penetrate deeply and will cause long term damage to the skin, namely skin cancer. Most of the UV radiation we get is from UVA rays.
UVB rays are shorter waves and they are the little gremlins that cause sunburn and also skin cancer in the longer term.
Understanding SPF (Sun Protection Factor)
Keep in mind that the SPF number on your sunscreen bottle ONLY measures UVB rays, and when buying sunscreen always READ the label. New legislation demands more information be included as to whether the product protects against both types of ultraviolet rays, UVB and UVA. Check to make sure you’re truly protected against both.
South Africa has lots of sunshine, so there are a wide variety of products available and the formulas are likely to contain both a chemical as well as a physical sunscreen.
A chemical sunscreen would be an ingredient like avobenzone, which absorbs both UVA and UVB rays, or mexoryl, which is an effective UVA blocker, but they need stabilisers like Helioplex to prevent breakdown and loss of effectiveness.
A physical sunscreen would contain inorganic compounds such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. They form a physical block on the skin and reflect UV rays. These are the most effective ingredients for sun protection.
CARE: The best way to ensure a hassle-free skin
C – Cover up with suitable clothing and adequate sunscreen.
A – Avoid the sun between 10am and 3pm to ensure you don’t burn.
R – Rub on an effective broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sun screen on all exposed parts of the body.
E – Examine your skin regularly and go see your dermatologist or a Skin Renewal clinic to check for potential problem areas.
Have a wonderful carefree summer!