• How do we Protect Ourselves from Ultraviolet Radiation?

How do we protect our skin from ultraviolet radiation?  It is a great, pertinent question. First, it is helpful to understand the different type of sunlight rays in the atmosphere. There are three different types.

  1. UVC is a short wavelength ray that is filtered by the atmosphere and does not reach the earth surface.  You basically do not need to worry about getting exposed to UVC rays.
  2. UVB is a biologically active short wave ray that penetrates the superficial skin layers, that is the skin surface.
  3. UVA is a long wave ray that penetrates the skin's thickest layer, the dermis.

Exposure to UVA and UVB rays lead to premature aging, skin wrinkling as well as suppression of the immune system. This is why prolonged sun exposure needs to be noted and what we eat helps our body in so many ways.

When we buy sunscreen we want to buy protection from both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays may burn the superficial layers of skin, and prolonged exposure to UVB and UVA rays play a role in development of skin cancer. Peak hours of sun exposure is between 10 AM and 4 PM. Protecting our skin, the largest organ in the human body, is vital to slow premature aging and staying healthy.

 

What is the best sunscreen?

There are many formulations and products out there, and so much information.  Our suggestion is to find a sunscreen that is a 'mineral' sunscreen that blocks the rays with physical minerals instead of chemical reactions. The reason for physical mineral sun protection is because it is more natural.  A classic sunscreen uses chemical reaction, which uses chemical ingredients to perform the reaction, which many have hormonal affects.  For a more natural active ingredient, zinc oxide is a preferred ingredient. We stay away from oxybenzone. Be sure to read labels, start with the 'active ingredients,' and you want to avoid hormone inhibiting ingredients. Check for synthetic preservatives, and other additives like BHT. It is best to get around 30 spf, which provides good coverage.  Any spf that is super high usually uses hormone inhibiting chemicals to achieve.

In some sense, oilier skin has a natural barrier to sun exposure compared to dry skin. If you have dry skin, it may be helpful to use some sort of oil if you do not have sunscreen on.  We do not recommend replacing sunscreen with oil, because oil does not have the protection from UVA and UVB rays, but sometimes we are busy running around, are outside for very short periods of time, and having on some face oil is better than nothing. Our baobab oil is a natural skin care moisturizer, and on those busy days with very limited sun exposure, the baobab oil is great to have on.

Ultraviolet light radiation exposure is increasing as we see meter measurements, so it is important to protect your skin with long sleeves, large brimmed hat, UV protection sunglasses, and limiting long sun exposures at peak hours. No one likes to reapply sunscreen, but it may be a good idea especially on those days you are outside in the sun for long periods of time.

 

Other Precautions

Watch out for bright surfaces, such as sand, water and snow, which reflect UV and increase exposure. Bright white boat surfaces on the water can be sources of increased UV exposure. This is problematic especially when UV index readings are high, and high risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure is in effect.  

 

 

References:  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization, skincancer.org




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