The ac­ces­sory we for­get the most: Sun­screen

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - Arts - By Ilse Inzunza dun, dun, dun, Visit Stam­ford- based fash­ion and life­style blog­ger Ilse Inzunza at www.live­learn­lux­eit.com.

By now it must sound like a bro­ken record: “Make sure to wear sun­screen ev­ery day.”

But is it some­thing you’ve ac­tu­ally in­cor­po­rated into your ev­ery­day skin­care rou­tine? I would like to think yes, but the re­al­ity is not many peo­ple abide by this rule. Pro­tect­ing your skin from UVA and UVB rays is one of the only proven things to make a dif­fer­ence in an­ti­ag­ing — not to men­tion it pre­vents skin cancer and yes, those nasty sun­burns dur­ing beach va­ca­tions.

The Skin Cancer Foun­da­tion says that 90 per­cent of the changes we see on our skin are caused by the sun’s ul­tra­vi­o­let rays. If this is lost on you, they’re talk­ing about age spots and

wrin­kles! Ex­cuse me while I run to ap­ply more sun­screen!

Be­cause the ef­fects of sun dam­age don’t ap­pear in­stantly, many of us push it to the side and for­get to ap­ply it. We’re all aware we should wear sun­screen, but it’s not a pri­or­ity un­less we’re headed to the pool or the beach.

I’m here to hand you ev­ery­thing you need to know about sun­screen so you can make an ed­u­cated choice next time you go sun­block shop­ping.

What’s sun­screen?

There are two main types of sun­screen: chem­i­cal and phys­i­cal sun­screen.

With a chem­i­cal sun­screen, you’ll see ingredients like oc­ti­salate, oxy­ben­zone, octi­nox­ate and avoben­zone on the la­bel. They work by ab­sorb­ing ra­di­a­tion into your skin and con­vert­ing it to heat to make sure no sun dam­age oc­curs.

Phys­i­cal ( or min­eral) sun­screen works a lit­tle dif­fer­ently. The ac­tive ingredients you’ll see on the la­bel are zinc ox­ide or ti­ta­nium diox­ide, which re­flect UV ra­di­a­tion, so no rays ac­tu­ally pen­e­trate the skin.

Some­thing to note is that all sun­screens will have some chem­i­cals in it, no mat­ter how nat­u­ral you go. The num­ber of chem­i­cals will de­pend on the brand you ul­ti­mately de­cide to use.

How do you choose be­tween the two?

It’s rec­om­mended that peo­ple with sen­si­tive or prob­lem- skin opt for phys­i­cal sun­screen be­cause the heat from the chem­i­cal sun­screen can ir­ri­tate the skin and make mat­ters worse. I would also rec­om­mend look­ing for fra­grance- free, oil- free for­mula and dou­ble cleans­ing at night to make sure you’ve re­moved all the sun­block so the skin doesn’t break­out or de­velop clogged pores.

If you don’t have sen­si­tive skin and hate the white cast phys­i­cal sun­screens tend to leave, then go for a chem­i­cal sun­block.

Since no SPF is created equal, it’ll be trial and er­ror find­ing the right one but know­ing how to read the la­bel is the first step in the right di­rec­tion.

Where does broad spec­trum fit in the picture?

Broad spec­trum is a must when choos­ing the right sun­screen. It refers to the pro­tec­tion against both UVA and UVB rays.

UVA rays are long wave ul­tra­vi­o­let rays and go deep into the skin’s thick­est layer. These are the rays that cause pre­ma­ture an­ti­ag­ing.

UVB rays are short wave ul­tra­vi­o­let rays and burn the su­per­fi­cial layer of the skin. In the long run, these rays can cause per­ma­nent skin dam­age and con­trib­ute to the de­vel­op­ment of skin cancer.

A great rule of thumb is to stick to a broad spec­trum SPF 30 or higher to de­crease the chances of skin cancer and longterm skin dam­age.

What more can you do to pro­tect your skin?

Don’t rely on SPF in your makeup. You would need about seven times the amount of foun­da­tion to get the nec­es­sary cov­er­age to fight against the sun’s rays. Most foun­da­tions with sun­screen aren’t broad spec­trum, ei­ther, and re­mem­ber what we said about broad spec­trum? It’s es­sen­tial!

Ap­ply sun­block lib­er­ally. The rec­om­mended amount is about two ta­ble­spoons for the face so make sure to use enough. This isn’t the area to skimp on in your skin­care rou­tine.

Wear a hat if you plan to be out­side un­der direct sun­light for long pe­ri­ods of time. Tak­ing ex­tra pre­cau­tions to en­sure you’re pro­tect­ing your skin is a must in hot weather.

Re­mem­ber lips and eyes can “sun­burn” too. Use lip balms that con­tain SPF and sun­glasses with UVA and UVB pro­tec­tion. One of the big­gest myths is that the skin on our face is the only area we re­ally need to pro­tect but in all ac­tu­al­ity, it’s equally im­por­tant to pro­tect the rest of the body.

Ap­ply sun­screen on the back of your hands and on your neck. These ar­eas are af­fected greatly while driv­ing and even while sit­ting next to a win­dow at work.

Pair­ing your sun­block with an an­tiox­i­dant- rich serum or mois­tur­izer fights free rad­i­cals and pre­vents an­ti­ag­ing like no other. This means us­ing a Vi­ta­min E or C serum, among oth­ers, will cat­a­pult you into a skin- savvy su­per­star.

Bub­ble86 / Getty Im­ages/ iStockphoto

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