The Importance of Sunscreen

Courtesy of Google images

Courtesy of Google images

McKenzie McElyea, staff writer

Out of the four seasons, when is it necessary to wear sunscreen? The obvious answer’s summer, right? Well, actually no; sunscreen is a must every single day.
Now I know what some may say: “I’m inside all day,” or, “but it’s cloudy,” and to that, I say that even then, the importance of sunscreen cannot be stressed enough.
Our skin is made up of three main layers: the epidermis, dermis, and the hypodermis. These layers make up our largest organ, and play a very important role in the integumentary system, or your body’s line of defense. In other words, if you do not protect your skin, it will not protect you.
But… protect it from what exactly? Well, due to our proximity to the sun, we are exposed to different types of UV (ultraviolet) rays daily. These rays, UVA and UVB, are the culprits of various types of damage to our skin, so it’s best to do everything we can to protect against them.
UVA rays are the stronger and more dangerous of the two, penetrating all the way into the dermis and causing pre-mature aging and wrinkles. UVB, on the other hand, while weaker, are still just as harmful to the skin, causing burns and weakening the epidermis to allow for UVA rays, bacteria and other external factors to access the lower layers of the skin, and eventually make their way into the bloodstream with ease. Another risk posed by both types of UV rays is skin cancer or melanoma. The DNA in your skin is able to absorb both types of UV rays, leading to genetic mutation, and resulting in various harmful diseases and ailments.
So, now that I know why, what should I use? Well, the answer isn’t exactly simple. It all comes down to two main factors: preference and skin type.
There are two main types of sunscreen, mineral and chemical, and both have pros and cons to them, it simply comes down to what you’d prefer.

– Safe-to-use chemicals absorb UV rays to protect face
– Highly common in U.S.; take up more than 96% of sunscreens on market

– Typically made from either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, forms a physical barrier to prevent UV rays from touching skin
– Only makes up roughly 3.4% of the sunscreens on the market in the U.S.

And from there, it’s up to you to find what works best for your skin. Be sure to find a high enough SPF(at least SPF 30!) and apply enough in the morning (3 finger rule: use at least 3 finger length’s worth!). Then, be sure to reapply constantly throughout the day, otherwise it will not work. And always remember, if you care for and appreciate your skin, it’ll love you back!