May is Melanoma Awareness Month, a good excuse to brush up on sun protection knowledge. If you stop reading right here, just know that a moisturizer with SPF is a must every single day, from January 1st to December 31st. This will not only prevent skin cancer, but it will ensure that you age more gracefully.
Continue reading to refresh your SPF knowledge.
What is SPF? SPF = Sun Protection Factor. The number tells you how long the sun’s UVB rays would take to redden your skin if you apply the sunscreen exactly as directed compared with the amount of time without sunscreen. So, if you use an SPF 30 product properly, it would take you 30 times longer to burn than if you used no sunscreen.
“SPF Math”. SPF 15 blocks about 94% of UVB rays; SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays; and SPF 45 blocks about 98%
UV rays are bad. UV rays lead to melanoma and 90% of signs of skin aging. Wear a moisturizer with SPF every day. Avoid laying out in the sun between the hours of 11 am and 4 pm when the sun is strongest. You will get a tan from being in the shade… And please do not use tanning beds.
UV rays are bad in different ways. UVA and UVB rays are both harmful. UVA rays cause wrinkling and skin aging. UVB rays cause sunburn and skin cancer. This is why you need to use a broad-spectrum SPF (meaning one that protects from both UVA and UVB rays).
Wear SPF even when indoors. UVA rays penetrate through glass windows. Let me say it again: wear SPF every day, even when you plan on staying inside all day.
Chemical versus physical. Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays. Physical sunblocks block UV rays. Both are better than not wearing sunscreen.
Vitamin D. Yes, we all need vitamin D. No, this is not a reason not to wear sunscreen every single day.
Please wear sunscreen. Every. Single. Day. Thank you!
Our Alchimie Forever marketing calendar says that April is the month of Calm. As in calm skin, and calm spirit.
Calm skin. April is National Rosacea Awareness month. Those who suffer from rosacea know this is the antithesis of calm. Red, angry, irritated, uncomfortable, are words that describe rosacea skin; calm is not. Helping to calm your skin looks like this:
- Avoid triggers. These will vary somewhat individually: heat, alcohol, spice, and more.
- Protect your skin. From the sun (always), but also from the cold and the wind.
- Treat your skin gently. Avoid harsh products, cleansers and otherwise. Look for anti-inflammatory ingredients. Remember that less is more.
- When all else fails, apply makeup to cover up the red. I so rarely recommend makeup other than for color… but sometimes it really is necessary.
- Your dermatologist is your friend. Listen to his / her recommendations, follow his / her prescriptions, trust the expert.
Calm spirit. Is there a calm spirit month? This is the time of year when my spirit is the antithesis of calm. Tired, overwhelmed, irritated, uncomfortable, are words that describe an agitated spirit; calm is not. Helping to calm my spirit looks like this:
- Avoid triggers. I know what mine are, I trust you know yours.
- Protect my energy. Be more quiet. Spend more time in nature (as I write from the gardens of Salamander Resort & Spa).
- Treat myself gently. Sleep more, drink less, exercise more. Cancel appointments (responsibly).
- When all else fails, smile until I make it. A Saturday with absolutely zero commitments is 3 days away. Tinos is 64 days away…
- My therapist is my friend. For me, that means my massage therapist… thank you Brian!
Calm – of skin and spirit!
Growing up, some might say my parents were quite “lenient.” My sisters and I never had curfews. We were never forbidden from going to parties or having parties at home. We were allowed to have a sip of champagne for special occasions before the legal age.
However, there were some rules that we had to follow to the letter. Good grades in school (just because). No smoking (because it ages you). No tattoos (because they don’t always look good when you’re older). No desserts (because sugar ages you). And no sun, no tanning, no sunburns (because the sun is your enemy – at best it ages you, at worst it kills you).
From an early age, we were taught to wear hats, sunglasses, and a moisturizer with SPF. Every single day. To this day, I cannot walk out of my house without a product with SPF, regardless of weather, season, temperature.
- The sun ages your skin – this is called photo-aging, or UV-induced skin aging. Think dark spots, fine lines, broken capillaries, laxity of the skin.
- Chronic sun exposure increases your risk of skin cancer (even without sunburns). Indeed, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation: “Both intermittent, intense exposure (the kind you get on vacation on a sunny isle, often leading to sunburn) and chronic lifetime exposure add to skin cancer risk. Studies have shown that chronic sun exposure is most associated with the development of squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common skin cancer, while both chronic and intense, intermittent exposure are believed to play a role in basal cell carcinoma, the most common skin cancer.”
- Darker skin types, while not as prone to skin cancer as lighter skin types, should also wear SPF protection daily to prevent dyspigmentation.
- UVA and UVB are both nefarious to the skin. SPF is a measure of UVB protection only – it does not address UVA. Make sure any product with SPF you use is “broad spectrum”, the official indication that the product will protect your skin from both wavelengths.
- What SPF number should you look for? My father always said SPF 20+ is perfect for “normal life.” Per the Skin Cancer Foundation states: “In vitro tests have shown that SPF 15 sunscreens filter out 93 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 30 protects against 97 percent and SPF 50 98 percent.”
- Chemical screen or physical block? You choose – what matters is that you use a product with SPF 20 or above every single day.
- My pick? You guessed it: Alchimie Forever Protective day cream SPF 23. In addition to containing SPF protection, this lightweight moisturizer is packed with antioxidants including blueberry and edelweiss extracts, and vitamin C. No ashiness, no oily residue, no shine. Just antioxidant and SPF protection.
Every single day.