Have you ever heard the credence “rays today, raisins tomorrow”? Well now you have, so now you can chirp it to your friends during your next brunch date in the sun as you apply your sunscreen correctly thanks to our handy guide.
Let’s get back to basics on sun exposure.
What is the sun doing that hurts us so much?
Our beloved sun produces ultraviolet radiation (UV) which burns our skin. UV rays cannot be felt or seen, and should not be confused with the sun’s infrared rays which is essentially, the sun’s warmth we feel.
There are two types of UV rays: UVA and UVB. UVB is the main culprit behind a sunburn, whereas UVA seeps deep into the skin causing damage such as wrinkles.
Prolonged exposure to UV rays results in sunburn, wrinkles, prematurely ageing skin, damage to your eyes, and the in worse case scenarios; skin cancer.
What can we do to protect ourselves from this formidable foe?
Sheltering from the sun aside, our greatest weapon against UV rays is sunscreen.
Sunscreen is a product that combines several ingredients which prevent UV damage from reaching the skin. Different products vary in the ability to block UVB and UVA rays.
How do I apply this wondrous protective barrier?
Liberally, precisely, around 20 minutes before sun exposure, and every 2 hours onwards.
Slather that wonderful cream everywhere and anywhere you can (without being obscene if you’re in public), and make sure you have a friend, family member, or passing stranger apply sunscreen to those hard to reach areas. Don’t be shy!
If you’re feeling cheeky, turn it into a game and create a sunscreen party where everyone sits in a circle slops on sunscreen on each other. Great ice breaker for company junk days!
But for those who prefer the maths of applying sunscreen, the average-sized humanoid needs 35ml for one body application. This works out to around 2-tablespoons per limb. But with sunscreen, put those kitchen scales away and just slap on more than you think you need. Don’t forget to always apply sunscreen after your moisturizer, not before!
Common Sunscreen Mistakes
Don’t use the same sunscreen bottle from 4 summers ago – sunscreen, like most cosmetic and skincare products have a shelf-life, but unlike your seven year old bottle of expensive perfume, sunscreen does not age well – old sunscreen can loose its effectiveness, especially if constantly exposed to heat (like a camping backpack or beach tote). If in doubt, throw it out!
Waterproof sunscreen is also something to be weary of as it gives you a false sense of hope in that you won’t need to re-apply later in the day. In actuality, the US FDA has indicated that some terms such sweat-proof shouldn’t be used anymore as they can mislead customers and lead to burnt skin. Currently, sunscreens are typically rated as “water resistant” for either 40 or 80 minutes, meaning afterwards you would need to re-apply for maximum protection.
Most sunscreens will have SPF (Sun Protection Factor), which does a fantastic job at blocking those nasty UVB rays. In lab conditions, SPF30 has filtered out 96.7% of UVB rays and a SPF50 filters 98%. Generally speaking, creams are more effective at covering your skin than aerosols. If your sunscreen says ‘broad spectrum’, it means it blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
Note that SPF does not double in strength when you double the SPF number, meaning SPF 60 is not twice as protective as SPF 30 – in fact the difference in protection between SPF 30 and SPF 50 is only 2%. Save your money – no need to splurge on a higher SPF – just apply liberally and often.
I am sunburnt, help!
So you’ve got a sunburn? There’s no easier way to spoil your mood than when you pull your bathers to the side and realise you are now the proud owner of a bright red shoulder. You desperately tell yourself “maybe it’s just red because I backflipped off the roof of the junk despite the captain of the ship telling me not to?” or a personal favourite; “sure it’s red now, but that will fade into a tan by tomorrow”.
Unfortunately, sunburn at any age whether it be mild or severe causes irreversible skin damage. When the skin is damaged it will slowly start to lose moisture and hydration, resulting in that uncomfortable sensation of dryness and tightness. The skin cells begin to thicken and a pigment known as melanin will begin to appear (tanning) in an attempt to stop the UV rays from reaching the deepest layer of your skin.
Sadly the only cure for sunburn is staying out of the sun, and giving the skin time to heal. Try having a cold bath or slapping on some after-sun care to help with any discomfort. Yelling at other people that you were only in the sun for a little bit and yes you did put sunscreen on the back of your neck can help ease emotional pain, but does little to help your skin.
For covering that red face, use green concealer to counteract the red.
Why is my skin peeling now? Haven’t I suffered enough?
Just like onions, cakes, and Shrek, you are layered. The peeling of your skin after a sunburn is your body’s way of getting rid of damaged cells. In a slightly dramatic move, the damaged cells are instructed to sacrifice themselves to avoid any further damage. As that layer dies and peels off, the second layer of skin takes it’s place.
Make sure to give your skin lots of moisturizer and care afterwards, and for the next few days you will have to enjoy summer from the shade of a palm tree (poor you!).
Now that you’ve wised up on why we must lather on the sun screen (even when the typhoons come to ruin a junk), you’ve got no excuse to skip the sun cream!
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Have you ever heard the credence “rays today, raisins tomorrow”? Well now you have, so now you can chirp it to your friends during your next brunch date in the sun as you apply your sunscreen correctly thanks to our handy guide. Let’s get back to basics on sun exposure. What is the sun doing…