Excessive sun exposure is the number one cause of aging. Early wrinkle formation, fine lines, rough and dehydrated skin, pigmentation, and uneven skin tone are caused by sun damage.
Skin damage from exposure to the sun is cumulative and can take years before it is evident. Just look and feel the skin on the back of your hands. Now compare it with the skin at the inside of your wrists.
The skin at the inside of your wrists looks and feels decades younger. Sun damage is the main culprit.
Furthermore, exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays appears to be the most important environmental factor involved with developing skin cancer such as the deadly melanoma.
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS WE CAN USE TO SHIELD OUR SKIN FROM THE SUN?
1) Sun screen
Sun screen is the most commonly used form of sun protection. However, people often get a false sense of security after application.
In fact, many people do not apply sunscreen with an adequate SPF factor or that the sunscreen may not have been applied evenly. Consequently, some areas of the skin remain unprotected.
It has also only recently become recognised that sun blocks need to protect against UVA as well as UVB.
Most sun blocks only provide UVB protection to reduce the risk of burning. UVA is the more dangerous form of radiation as far as ageing and cancer triggering is concerned.
Sun blocks must be re-applied after contact with water, and at least 30 minutes before sun exposure. Re-application is vital when prolonged sun exposure is anticipated.
Pills are available as an adjunct to sun creams. We do not recommend taking pills on their own as they are mainly antioxidants and believes that the barrier sun protection is far more effective.
In her opinion, she believes that the manufacturers advise these pills are just adjunctive.
The benefit of taking the pills is that they produce a systemic antioxidant effect. The creams will only work in the areas applied (which may not be evenly applied).
Thus, we strongly recommend the intake of pills and the application of creams when excessive sun exposure is anticipated.
3) Cosmetics with sun protection
There are also more cosmetic products today that include sunscreen. We see that in many tinted moisturizers, foundations, powders and lipsticks.
However, they should be used for added protection, not to replace sunscreens.
For the most part, sunscreens in make-up are great for incidental exposure to the sun (if you are walking from your car to your door for example).
But it is better to use a sunscreen all over your face under your make up if you expect to be in the sun for longer than 10 or 15 minutes.
What to look out for when shopping for a good sun protection product?
For daily indoor use, Dr Cheng recommends a product with an SPF of 15-30, and UVA +++ protection.
A sun protection factor (SPF)) of 15 would mean that if it normally takes a person ten minutes to burn, with an SPF of 15, she can stay out in the sun 15 times longer before burning.
It is important to understand that as the numbers increases, the sunscreen becomes less efficient. According to Harvard Health Letter, the difference between a SPF 30 and SPF 50 is only 1.3%.
What else can I do?
Physical blocks are also important. You can cover up with clothes. A long sleeved shirt and long pants with a tight weave are best. You can also get a hat, umbrella that will be able to shade your face, head, ears and neck.
And if you really want to have tanned looking skin, rather than getting skin damage while at it, why not try a self tanning cream instead?