Protecting Your Skin From The Sun

The largest organ in the body is also the most exposed; it is exposed to all sorts of environmental factors, the sun, the wind, and the toxins in the air all have an effect on how well your skin will look and feel. Every day our facial pores are covered with make up that clogs them up and doesn't allow them to breathe, we get all sorts of scratches, bruises, burns, and we expose it to chemical irritants every time we clean our home or wash our dishes. It is no wonder that maintaining good and healthy skin has become such a challenge for many people.

Still, we live some very busy lives and sad to say many of us do not seriously think about how important our skin is to our regular health. Because it is the first line of defense from a number of microscopic invaders, it is probably one of the most important things we need to care for. Without healthy skin we will soon see the signs of aging appear in a number of forms. As pointed out by the Mayo Clinic,

Good skin care and healthy lifestyle choices can help delay the natural aging process and prevent various skin problems.

Without good skin care we leave ourselves vulnerable to a number of health problems that we may not realize. Here are a few things to think about when trying to take care of your skin.

Protection From the Sun

You may not think about the damage that the sun's dangerous UV rays is doing to your skin every time you walk out your door, especially when you're young. But if you continue to head out the door every day without adequate protection you will soon see the negative affects beginning to show.

Over the course of your life, excessive exposure to the sun leaves your skin vulnerable to a number of different types of skin cancer and other adverse conditions that could in some cases even turn out to be life threatening. Sad to say many of these problems could easily be prevented with a broad-spectrum sun protection program.

While some people may argue that the sun has some definite health benefits in life they don't truly understand how to balance their exposure with the right amount of protection to keep their skin healthy. According to the Environmental Protection Agency's Guide The Burning Facts,

Although the sun is necessary for life, too much sun exposure can lead to adverse health effects, including skin cancer. More than 1 million people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, making it the most common form of cancer in the country.

While many people often look to sunscreen to offer them protection they should not limit their focus to just this one option. One of the reasons for this is because of the different types of skin everyone will react differently to the sun's exposure.

Know Your Skin Type

Everyone, no matter what their ethnic background may be is prone to adverse effects from the sun and depending on the type of skin you have you may find you are more at risk than someone else.

The FDA has six different classifications of skin type that are numbered accordingly. Lower number skin types are more at risk from the damaging effects of the sun than those with a higher number. People with fair skin usually are ranked as a one or a two and are much more likely to burn quickly with more damaging effects than someone with a skin type of 5 or 6. Knowing your skin type will help you to determine just how much exposure to the sun your body can take without damage and help you to decide exactly what type of sunscreen you'll need to get enough protection.

There are also other factors that are considered when determining your particular skin type. Children's skin tends to be more sensitive and will be irritated much faster than adult skin, and then there are those who have skin allergies, rosacea, naturally dry skin, elderly people and those with a family history of skin cancer. All of these will be a factor in determining your actual skin type.

How to Choose Your Sun Screen

Every year, a new line of sunscreens hits the market to help shield you from the sun's UV rays. They all work in different ways; some will scatter the light and reflect it away from your body while others may absorb the rays before they reach your skin.

In the past, choosing the right sunscreen meant just looking for the right SPF factor, which offered protection from the UV rays, but studies have shown that UVB rays also can lead to cancer as well. The difference between the two rays were that the UVA rays do not leave behind the visible signs of sunburn that is so evident from the UVB rays but the damage could actually be even worse. These rays penetrate deeply into the skin causing longer lasting damage in signs of early aging and wrinkles. According to WebMD,

Ultraviolet A rays (UVA) also increase skin cancer risk. While UVA rays don't cause sunburn, they penetrate deeply into skin and cause wrinkles. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that up to 90% of skin changes associated with aging are really caused by a lifetime of exposure to UVA rays.

This means that the sunscreen you choose should offer broad-spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Look for those with ingredients like benzophenones, cinnamates, salicylates, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avoobenzone and ecamsule.

You also want to think about the amount of time you will be in the sun too. If you usually burn in 10 minutes than get a sunscreen of SPF 15. However if you have a skin type of 1 or 2 or you have a family history of skin cancer or lupus you should look at a higher SPF protection.

There is no doubt that the sun can offer us rewarding benefits from its warmth and soothing qualities but our skin needs to be with us for the remainder of our lives. We need to find the right balance in taking care of it while still getting some of the natural benefits at the same time.