Features

Sunscreen’s importance does not fade with summer

by MELODY YU

Despite being a dull, repetitive task, applying sunscreen is crucial, not just during the summer but all year long.

Although most people believe that sunscreen is necessary only before going out into the sun or to the beach, a study conducted by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology has shown that it is best to apply it whenever one leaves the house. Doing so greatly reduces the risk of developing skin cancers such as melanoma, a possibly life-threatening disease.

Sunscreen is also essential for preventing sunburn, which weakens the skin and makes it easier for bruises to form. Not only does the skin burn from peeling, swelling, itching, redness and hives, but a study from annalsofepidemiology.org suggested that recurring sunburns actually increase the risk of skin cancer.

“I got my first sunburn when I was 4,” said junior Laura Garcia. “The next day, I looked like a lobster, but my mom still made me go to school. It was horrible; I remember scratching all over and my skin peeling for days.”

Without the aid of sunscreen, other consequences of prolonged time in the sun may be experienced, such as premature aging of the skin. According to stylecraze.org, people who use sunscreen under the age of 55 have a 24 percent greater chance of preventing signs of aging, such as wrinkles and dark spots.

Blotchiness and skin discoloration can be avoided by applying sunscreen daily. According to Little Leaves, a company that makes sun protective clothing, the best solution to avoid these effects is to use a sunscreen that doubles as a cream or a moisturizer. In the case of dry or sensitive skin, a recoating of about one ounce of sunscreen, depending on the person’s body mass, may be necessary every two hours, especially after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. 

It is equally important to apply sunscreen on cloudy or cold days. According to healthcenter.com, clouds may increase or reduce the ultraviolet (UV) Index, which is the measure of strength of sunburn-producing UV radiation, allowing roughly 40 percent of it to permeate.

In spite of all these benefits, choosing a sunscreen brand best suited for one’s outdoor activities is vital. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates labels with “Broad Spectrum” or “Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15” to guarantee protection against sun-induced skin damage, has made it easier for consumers to choose.

Most consumers are under the misconception that sunscreen and sunblock are identical. Sunscreen allows for a tan to still occur, while sunblock stops ultraviolet (UV) rays completely.

According to skincancer.org, Sun Protection Factor (SPF) refers to the duration of protection the sunscreen offers compared to how fast the person would burn without sunscreen.

For example, if a person burns after 10 minutes without sunscreen, applying SPF-15, would prevent the burning or redness for 15 times longer, or five hours. In most cases, the optimal strength would be SPF-30, although the difference between high and low SPF is not significant, according to webmd.org.

Regardless of the protection offered, people who rely solely on sunscreen are likely to burn more easily than those who apply sunscreen and stay in the shade, according to consumerreports.org. It is also important to dress in correspondence with the weather; thick and dark-colored clothing absorb radiation quicker and better than airy, pastel-colored material, allowing for better protection. Additionally, sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats offer greater protection.

Even though applying sunscreen may take extra time, it proves itself beneficial for years to come. 

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