SPF. Why It’s A Non-Negotiable.

MissDrepants_Blog_SPFNonegotiable01So here’s the deal. As a your bestie esthie, I feel it’s my duty to keep you all on your toes when it comes to certain, ahem, friendly reminders. I walk a fine line between a tsk tsk plus finger wag, and making sure you are all keeping that beautiful skin of yours properly protected. So let’s chat a bit about the three little letters that have sent my clients into a whirlwind of denial and / or panic. Sometimes at the exact same time.

SPF. That’s right. Sun Protection Factor.

You may be asking yourself why in the world I am bringing this up right now. We’ve made it past Labor Day, not a barbeque or beach day in sight. And that is precisely the why. Most folks have become hip to the fact that beach day sans sunscreen equals big no-no, which is awesome. However, it doesn’t end there. And the importance is two-fold.

Reason Number One. UVA. Long Wave Rays. The dominant tanning rays, whether you’re out on the beach, in a tanning bed, or walking to work. These rays won’t burn you. Oh no no no. They are sneakier than that. They penetrate deeper into the skin and try their hardest to wreak havoc underneath the surface. One of their targets? Collagen. These are the rays responsible for premature aging, wrinkling and saggy loose skin. The crazy part? These rays are present during all daylight hours throughout the entire year so unless you are wearing SPF every single day you can be sure your collagen is fighting a battle on your face without you even knowing it! (Gasp) Fun fact. UVA rays can penetrate through clouds and glass. Like a really cool super hero, but one that’s not on your team. No thanks!

Reason Number Two. UVB. Short Wave Rays. These rays are responsible for reddening and burning of the skin. And while they play a part in tanning and aging, they are more well known for being a key element in the development of skin cancer. These short wavers are the ones we’ve been warned about as kids, usually between 10am and 4pm depending on season and location. While they can’t penetrate glass, there is a constant feeling of uneasiness associated with these rays, especially when they are paired with elements like reflective surfaces (snow, ice, water) or high altitudes. Think Dr. Bruce Banner turns Hulk. You’re never not sure when it’s going to lose its cool. Which would be kind of awesome…if the target wasn’t our skin!

The need to knows. Both UVA and UVB rays have brutal effects on the skin. They are both leading factors in premature aging (gulp) and skin cell mutations that can lead to cancer (double gulp). If there’s one thing you take away from this, let it be one simple fact. Tanned skin is damaged skin. Period. Always has been. Always will be. There’s no way around it. It’s your skin trying to protect itself from sun damage. And while we all yearn for that sun-kissed glow, unprotected sun exposure is pretty much waging an all out war underneath the layers of that beautiful skin of ours. Think about it, do you want the sun to actually kiss your face? Yikes.

Our Daily To-Dos.

– Protect yourself from both UVA and UVB rays with a broad spectrum sunscreen. Always. Summer. Winter. Morning. Afternoon. Day in the park. Walk to work. Unless you’ve just watched the sunset, you should have it on.

– Stick to SPF 15 and 30. The lower numbers don’t offer enough protection and the higher numbers are so jam packed with chemicals that I find they do more damage than good. My absolute favorite? Amore Pacific SPF 30.

– Limit your exposure. No need to baste in midday sun. Why not try getting some outside time during soft sun hours? My favorite times to be out and about are between 6am and 10 am or 4pm and 7pm. If you do happen to find yourself in the blistering sun, grab that favorite hat, some shades with UV protection and one of those handy UV umbrellas.

– Tanning beds, forget em. They do just as much damage as the sun, if not more. Move on.

Our Monthly To-Dos.

– Give yourself a head to toe self examination. Grab your roomie, significant other, or family member and give each other a second scan. Like a skin date. Learn the warning signs and keep track of any spots that appear or progress.

Our Yearly To-Dos.

– Schedule an appointment with your dermatologist for a full body scan. It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s life saving. If you don’t have a set dermatologist or don’t have it in your budget, check for offices that offer free screenings.

I am as much a beach bunny as the next gal. Have been since the day before I was born, as my mom waded her cute baby belly in the waters of Copacabana. And trying to pry a beach day away from me is like arm wrestling a hungry gorilla. But since i’ve become an esthetician and studied the inner workings of what skin sans SPF is like, i’ve made it a daily goal to be as sun smart as possible. Sure we feel all cute when we get our tan on. And it seems like we look younger and healthier, but it couldn’t be more to the contrary. You’re pretty much throwing your skin into daily battle. That’s no way to treat the largest and most protective organ in your body!

As your bestie esthie, I wouldn’t be doing my duty if I didn’t remind of you that. I’m not asking that you quit cold turkey, but at least be aware of what’s happening in your body and the steps you can take to protect it. What are you waiting for? SPF slather party!

Share your favorite SPF below!