Harmful Effects of the Sun's Ultraviolet Rays
The fountain of youth has stood the test of time as man’s ultimate desire.
The ability to roll back the years, experience, and history that time writes across our faces. While we’ll always keep our eyes out for that mythical place that bestows immortality, the secret to reversing the years isn’t even a secret at all: Protect your skin!
How the Sun Causes 90% of Skin Aging
The sun may give us life, but it robs us of our youth. Even at 93 million miles away, our favorite star’s harmful rays are estimated to be responsible for nearly 90% of skin aging. And while feeling the sun’s radiant warmth against our skin is seductive, what’s happening at the cellular level is far from sexy.
Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light causes stem cells to die off–which precipitates the thinning and wrinkling of the skin–but UV also damages the elastin fibers that are meant to prevent the sagging and stretching of your skin. Of course, it’s not just the lines on our face we need to be worried about.
Every year, more people in the US will be diagnosed with skin cancer than all other cancers combined. While normally treatable, cancerous lesions are caused by decreases in the skin’s immune function and claim over 20,000 American lives each year.
So what can be done to stop the UV’s lifelong assault against our skin? Well gentlemen, it’s time we stop exposing ourselves.
Why Sunscreen Ingredients Matter
While it’s best to shield your skin from the sun with UV protective clothing, you’re still allowed to take your shirt off and enjoy the sun–you just need to use protection.
The antidote to sun damage is a high-quality sunscreen. For optimal protection, you’ll want to use a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen that offers UV absorption up to 400 nanometers. In layman's terms, this simply means a lotion offering 100% protection from all UVA and UVB rays.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about the SPF. For the sunscreen to work effectively, it needs to be formulated with photo-stable active ingredients that won’t break down easily when exposed to the sun’s rays. While this may seem like a no brainer, many sunscreens often fall short of this basic requirement.
How Sunscreen Stops UVA and UVB Rays
Just for a moment, let’s liken your bathroom cupboard to a tool belt.
For every problem you encounter in life, there’s a tool that helps you solve it. Loose screw? Grab a screwdriver. Leaky faucet? Get the wrench. Broken water main? Pick up your damn phone.
Now as a well-rounded man, why would you not apply the same principles for the bathroom. You would never go to an interview with bad breath or fail to wear deodorant on a hot date, so why expose yourself to the sun’s harmful rays without first applying sunscreen?
Unless you’re living in Alaska during the winter, you are probably spending a considerable amount of time every day either directly or indirectly exposed to UV radiation. Because that skin damage wasn’t just caused by a shirtless day in Cabo San Lucas a decade ago when you had 10 tequila shots and not a drop of sunscreen–it’s alright, we’ve been there–but more because of those countless hours spent behind the wheel.
That’s right, sitting in traffic isn’t just bad for your sanity, it’s bad for your face too.
The sun emits both UVA and UVB rays–UVB rays cause sunburn and UVA rays cause premature aging. While front windshields are designed to absorb both, the side and back windows only absorb UVB rays. In fact, studies have shown that when the driver’s seat is on the left side of the vehicle, signs of overexposure like premature aging and skin cancer are more common on the left side of the body.
The alarming point is, that’s just a single way we’re exposed to the sun. Each day, our faces are exposed to far more UVA and UVB rays that we’d like to believe. Now add up the years of daily skin damage and it’s no wonder the Fountain of Youth drove men to the ends of the earth.
Looking young doesn’t have to be so hard. You just need to use the tools at our disposal (sunscreen) to protect our equipment (skin). Instead of a cheap tube of toxins tossed in a beach bag, sunscreen should be an everyday part of your daily skincare routine.
Along with brushing your teeth or taking a shower, applying a mineral-based sunscreen to your face each day is essential to your overall health. Not only will it help prevent dangerous skin conditions, but it can keep you looking 10 years younger.
Stay youthful, from experience. SQiN for Him.