The summer season us upon us, and with that comes high UV index ratings! We have heard it preached to us over, and over, and over again that we need to be protecting ourselves from the sun and the damage it can do to our skin. Skin cancer is the biggest and scariest concern when it comes to sun damage, but I’m not going to talk to you today about that. (if you want some info on it though you can go here) Today I am going to discuss the role the sun plays in aging our skin. We constantly hear how SPF is our best anti-aging defence, but I wanted to know how much truth there was to it. So I did something horrifying… I went and had my skin analyzed by VISIA, which is a imaging system that takes pictures of your skin using cross-polarized lighting to allow you to view and analyze 8 different skin conditions on 3 different layers of the skin. As I said… HORRIFYING.
Now before I show you the results, let me give you a little back info on myself, and my history with the sun. I am 28 years old. I am fair skinned. I live in Canada, so we have a high UV index for a couple months of the year. As a child my mother slathered me with so much sunscreen (or “scunscreen” as I used to call it) that it couldn’t even be rubbed in. In my mid teens I did the tanning bed thing for a few years. And from 19-20 I lived in Australia, but I did use sunscreen on my face when I was there. Then from about 20-24 NO sunscreen, I was back in Canada and hardly spent any time outside. After 24 we had a cottage, I had Parker and I was taking better care of myself so I started wearing sunscreen regularly, but only from May-September.
So I went into the room, full anxiety, and stuck my head into this machine…
The first result to pop up was analyzing my wrinkles…
(Yes I know I need my brows waxed bad) So basically all those little green lines show actual damaged areas where wrinkles are beginning to form in the dermal layer of the skin, beyond surface dehydration lines. The darker the link the deeper the wrinkle. As it turns out I have 91% FEWER wrinkles then woman in my age group!!!! I attribute this to religiously following an advanced skincare routine. So far so good right!
Next up was the actual UV damage assessment…
The black and white picture shows the UV damage just under the surface of the skin, whereas the sepia toned image shows the damage that has reached the dermal layer. They masked the side of my face to highlight the damage in that specific area, but you can still see the damage on the rest of my face. The darker the spot, the more damage there is.. and LOOK at my forehead, I am CRINGING. It turns out that even though I have 91% fewer wrinkles then woman in my age group, I actually only have less UV damage then 46% and that my friends is a big fat fail!!! This is not good. It looks like my tanning bed days erased the fact that I lived the first half of my life in a sunscreen bodysuit.
But we weren’t done yet, they still had to show me what my skin would look like in 7 years if I carried on not properly protecting myself from the sun. And I am only sharing this with you so that you will realize how important sun protection is to prevent aging of the skin. In fact, as it turns out 90% of skin aging is caused by the sun…
YOU GUYS I LOOK 100 YEARS OLD!!! (I’ll only be 35) Look at the unevenness! Look at the wrinkles! Look at the brown spots! Look at the dull uneven texture! NOT COOL. I cried in the Uber on the way home. But once I got home I came up with a plan to prevent this from happening so quickly. If you are not using proper sun protection because you aren’t all that worried about skin cancer because it “probably won’t happen to you” (newsflash, it CAN) then I am telling you right now this aging thing WILL happen to you, and using proper sun protection will slow it down dramatically.
I have come up with a list of 10 of the best sun protection tips, and things I have immediately put into effect for myself AND my children. Please remember that the majority of sun exposure does happen in your childhood, and sun damage is cumulative. Meaning any damage that happens to your children skin now stays with them for the rest of their lives.
10 Sun Protection Tips
- Always, Always, ALWAYS wear SPF and remember to REAPPLY – During summer and winter, in any and all weather conditions. Clouds only block 10% of UV rays. A minimum of SPF30 is recommended, this is your best defence against UV damage. If you are saying to yourself “but I never burn” then you need to change your mindset; stop thinking of SPF as anti-burning, and start thinking of it as ANTI-AGING! Dermatologist are recommending 1 full once of sunscreen on your body and 1 full teaspoon for your face. *If you are NOT applying this much then you are not getting the full SPF protection rating listed on the bottle!!!!!
- Don’t Forget your neck/chest/hands – In cooler months don’t forget to use protection on your hands, neck, and chest. These parts of your body are just as frequently exposed to the sun as your face. Besides the face they are typically the first parts of the body to show the signs of aging AND the hardest to get rid of!
- Put your SPF on before your clothes – If you are going to be spending time in the sun, try putting lathering up before you get dressed. You are more likely to miss spots when trying to maneuver around clothes. (I ALWAYS do this for my kids)
- Don’t Wait – SPF takes about 20-30 minutes to sink into the skin and take affect. By applying right before you head outside, you are basically in the sun for 20-30 minutes with NO protection. Using Tip #3 should give your SPF sufficient time to be absorbed!
- Layer your SPF – No matter what rating of SPF you are using, a certain percentage of UV rays are still going to enter your skin. While layering you SPF wont increase the rating (wearing SPF30 onto of SPF50 wont add up to SPF 80) it will filter the more UV rays out as it goes through the layers so overall a lower percentage of rays make their way into your skin. So just because your moisturizer says SPF-whatever, it is STILL beneficial for you to add another SPF on top!
- Use a powder SPF – So you know you need to reapply your sunscreen, but how are you expected to reapply on your face when you are wearing make-up? Enter the powder SPF! A lot of suncare brands have identified this issue and are now making powder SPF’s. Some come in translucent and others have some tint to them. You can simply just dust it over your face when it is time to reapply. Not only with this help keep you protected, but it will help cut down your shine as well!
- Use SPF Lip balm – Our poor lips are usually often forgotten until there is a problem with them. But remember your lips are skin and need to be protected from the sun just like the rest of your body. Put on an SPF lip balm under your lipstick or gloss to keep them protected! And don’t forget to reapply it before touching yourself up!
- Always wear a hat – The bigger the brim the better! It will help block some UV rays from reaching your face (this was the biggest thing the dermatologist that did my skin assessment stressed to me for when I would be spending time in the sun) An added bonus is that it will protect the skin on your scalp!
- Avoid the sun during peak hours – The stronger the UV rays, the more damage they can do! Peak hours are usually between 10:00am-3:00pm. So it is best to plan all your outdoor activities, especially for children, in the early morning, or late afternoon. But if you need to be outside during these hours, take all necessary precautions to protect yourself from the sun. OR you could always check your local weather network for UV index predictions, and then try to plan your activity for a day that will have a lower overall rating
- Keep your SPF fresh – Sunscreen has a shelf life, the longer it sits around, the less effective it will become. Make sure you are checking the expiry dates on your bottles! I highly recommend just tossing your old SPF’s and starting fresh at the beginning of each sunny season when the UV index reaches peak highs.
Hopefully you are now convinced that it is time to step up your sun protection game. It is one thing to hear it preached, but it is another thing to see what kind of damage is happening first hand. It really helps you to realize the importance. If you want to know what kind of products I am using to protect myself and my family this summer, follow me on instagram. Each Sunday, from now until Labour Day, I will be sharing a different one of my favourite sun protection products in my stories!