The importance of sunscreen to protect the face and body against UV rays

The effects UV Rays

While the sun can be enjoyable, protecting the skin of your face and body from its UV rays with sunscreen is a must. Adopting better sun care habits into your routine can keep your skin healthy and youthful-looking while preventing skin cancer.

The first step to proper sun care is understanding what UV rays are and why we should be shielding ourselves against them for the well-being of our skin and overall health. Ultraviolet rays, or UV rays as they are more commonly known, are a part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is made up of all visible and invisible forms of light.

Emitted by the sun, UV rays (UVA and UVB) are powerful enough to cause severe damage to our skin because, no matter the time of day or season, our skin is vulnerable to their harmful effects. This is why you need to wear sunscreen regularly; it forms a protective layer between our skin and these potentially dangerous rays, helping fight off major damage and, more seriously, skin cancer. Though the human eye cannot perceive them or necessarily feel them, they can have long-term and lingering effects on our skin. Of the two types of rays, UVB represents only about 5% of what we face daily, while UVA takes up the remainder of the lion’s share.

In the immediate, direct sunlight causes sunburns, which are extremely painful and can take days to heal fully. Sunburns can also sometimes result in aggravation or blistering of the dermis, the skin’s surface layer. Beyond that:

  • Repeated and prolonged ultraviolet exposure changes the appearance of the skin and can cause wrinkles, dark spots, and rougher skin texture in the long term. The more often you spend time outdoors without wearing sun protection, the greater likelihood that skin will start to show signs of aging earlier on, even as early as your twenties and thirties.
  • UVA exposure can cause photosensitivity, meaning that the skin is ultra-sensitive to the sun or other light sources. Photosensitivity typically results from a chemical reaction caused by medication. On average, about 47% of prescription drugs include photosensitivity as a side effect.
  • Ultraviolet rays can also impact your immune system and make otherwise dormant skin conditions like cold sores flare up. Sunburns can also cause outbreaks.

In the most severe cases, heightened exposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer, which, though often treatable, can have life-threatening consequences if not dealt with swiftly.

How can we get a head start on preventing skin cancer?

Like so many people, you’re surely aware of the risks associated with sun exposure. But, are you doing enough to protect your skin? Even if you have a deep complexion or tan easily in the sun, you still need to be diligent about applying sunscreen daily.

When it comes to sun protection, your single most effective ally is sunscreen, which shields your skin, the body’s largest organ, from the damaging effects of UVA/UVB rays. Sunscreen is your first line of defence against skin cancer. However, you can take several other preventative steps to help steer clear of the sun’s harmful rays.

  • Try to limit the time you spend outdoors during the sun’s peak hours, which are between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.; this is when the sun is at its strongest. If that can’t be avoided, then sunscreen is a must—and not just for your face; make sure to get it all over your body. Try out a fast-absorbing formula for the body such as La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios line.
  • When you are going outside, especially for extended periods, keep well covered. Wear a cap or wide-brimmed hat and, depending on the weather, wear long-sleeve shirts and pants. Even the best sunscreen available can’t do it alone and could always benefit from a bit of backup.
  • When deciding upon a sunscreen, be sure to opt for a water-resistant formula so that it won’t wash away in the water and can stand up to sweat. No matter how waterproof the product, be vigilant about reapplying sunscreen every two hours or so.
  • Start forming good sun protection habits early on; the damage to our DNA caused by the sun results from an accumulation of sun exposure throughout our entire lives. This is why educating children on the importance of sunscreen can help little ones significantly minimize the sun’s impact on their skin throughout their lifetime. La Roche-Posay has developed a line of kids’ sunscreen, offering them extreme protection without irritating their sensitive skin.
  • Make sure to always be on the lookout for any warning signs of skin cancer by performing regular self-examinations. Be mindful of the appearance of any abnormalities, especially concerning your moles. While not all moles are cancerous, sometimes new moles or changes in existing moles can be cause for concern. There are multiple types of skin cancer, including melanoma, which is the most dangerous one. When checking your moles, there are several indicators to keep an eye on. If you start to notice irregularly shaped moles, or if an existing mole is changing shape or growing in size, consult your doctor, who will be able to determine if the mole is cancerous and advise you on the next steps. When going out in the sun, try concealing existing moles from the sun as overexposure can cause cancerous lesions to form. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays is responsible for 86% of melanomas.

Make sunscreen a habit, such as La Roche-Posay’s sunscreen, as it’s the most powerful preventative tool in your arsenal. Be sure that your sunscreen offers an SPF of at least 30 (the Canadian Dermatology Association strongly advises choosing a sunscreen ranging between 30 and 60 SPF) and that it specifically protects against UVA rays—take note if the label features the Health Canada UVA logo, too.

You may also wish to consider the myriad benefits of mineral sunscreens, which offer broad-spectrum protection and can protect the skin without irritating it, just like organic filters. Mineral filters in sunscreen, such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, are popular choices among people with ultra-sensitive skin.

Unlike organic filters, which act as a sponge by absorbing sunlight, impenetrable mineral filters tend to function more like a reflector or disco ball—rays that the skin is exposed to are reflected, then diffused in different directions. The best mineral sunscreens for the face and body are those designed to provide unparalleled coverage against short-term exposure to UVA/UVB rays. What’s more, these cream-based formulas tend to be easily absorbed by the skin and won’t leave a residual white cast on your face nor a greasy or oily complexion.

Why you should wear sunscreen every day

While most people only apply sunscreen before heading outdoors, sunscreen is so much more than just a sometimes thing. The reality is that sunscreen should be applied liberally every single day—especially to our faces—, even on a rainy day during the winter. This is because the sun’s rays are powerful, and up to 80% penetrate clouds or windows.

Regardless of if you’re going for a quick walk, going out for a drive, or if you’re working from home and you work beside a window, you should always be wearing sunscreen. Though this may come as a surprise, the risks of developing skin cancer are just as prevalent even if you aren’t planning on spending lots of time outside.

If you’ve already been wearing a moisturizer with SPF, this is a great start. Now, consider the advantages of a broad-spectrum sunscreen applied daily. Before priming your face for makeup, apply an even coat of sunscreen across your face and then let it absorb for a few minutes. Keep in mind that sunscreen should always be the last step in your skincare routine.

A tinted sunscreen can provide you with the best of both worlds, shielding your skin from the sun’s UV rays while concealing imperfections, all in one application. Come summer, a tinted sunscreen can be a much more lightweight alternative to heavier foundations with sun-blocking benefits to boot. La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios Tinted Ultra-Fluid Lotion is a barely-there formulation that glides on effortlessly. Beyond giving your complexion an even, smooth finish, an oil-free and lightweight formula functions as a beautiful primer and creates the ideal surface for makeup application.

Here’s why you should be using La Roche-Posay’s sunscreen

La Roche-Posay has patented and perfected the Anthelios range of sunscreen products to provide you with optimal sun protection. This line is widely recognized for being the best facial sunscreen in Canada, continually outpacing other brands for numerous reasons.

  • A long-lasting formula: Most La Roche-Posay Anthelios products offer considerable sweat and water resistance for 40 to 80 minutes. Rigorously tested under numerous conditions, these formulas have repeatedly been proven to provide the same continuous sun protection almost an hour and a half after their initial application.
  • A texture that feels better: La Roche-Posay’s rich fast-absorption sunscreen formulas are made for easy application, blending seamlessly onto the skin. Don’t forget that applying sunscreen should be the very last step of your skincare routine.
  • La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios products are developed under strict medical standards, creating a sunscreen formulation that is ultra-safe and incredibly effective against the sun’s rays. Such products provide superior UV protection without irritating your skin thanks to their fragrance-free and dermatologist-tested formulas—no clogged pores here, just healthy, prepped-for-anything skin.

See for yourself why La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios range is the best available sunscreen for the face and body, protecting you from the sun’s UVA/UVB rays. Remember, moderation is essential when it comes to spending time in the sun and taking preventative steps is vital. You can still embrace that sun-kissed feeling; simply be sure to protect your skin first with correct sun care maintenance and safeguard yourself before stepping outside.

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