Australians have the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. At least two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70, resulting in more than 500 deaths a year. Jenna from Rejuvenation Clinics of Australia explains why the application of a quality sunscreen is the single most important element to your skin care routine.
As you probably know, the major cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. In Australia UV radiation is strong enough to cause sunburn in just 11 minutes on a sunny January day!
Not only do UV rays cause cancer, dermatologists from the Skin Cancer Foundation estimate that 90 percent of visible ageing comes from the cumulative hours spent in the sun.
But why? Sunlight can have a negative effect on your skin, mostly causing mutation of cells when damaged. Your cells normally replicate themselves as they are. So sun-damaged cells will replicate that way too, creating more mutated cells that fail to produce collagen. Sunlight can also cause pigmentation and can appear in the form of freckles or dark spots, making your overall skin tone appear dull.
However, despite the awareness that most Australians have about UV radiation causing skin cancer and pre-mature ageing, many people still don’t wear sunscreen every day.
- Many people think they don’t need sunscreen on overcast days, or for brief stints in the sun however UV light penetrates clouds with ease, so you need protection even on cloudy days.
- Even if you work inside, you may be exposed to UV light. If you’re next to a window you could be exposed on a daily basis. “UV energy is invisible, if you can see daylight, then UV is present and damageing your skin.” Says Dr Garry Cussell.
- The truth about sun risks are that they’re cumulative. There’s no regeneration period when your skin bounces back to its plump self, it continues to accumulate damage for long-term effects. “Most of the cumulative sun damage we see on the skin is not from the beach,” Dr. Tanzi says4 “It’s from daily activities and intermittent, so called ‘incidental’ sun exposure. All that sun really adds up and over the years and makes a huge difference.”5
A very important consideration often overlooked, is the quality of your sunscreen. Here’s what you need to look for when choosing a sunscreen.
How to choose a quality sunscreen:
- Your sunscreen must be broad spectrum: The most effective sunscreens are the ones labelled broad-spectrum, protecting us from both UVA and UVB rays. Often we will find their abbreviations on the package, such as PPD and IPD. They refer to the level of UVA protection. IPD should inform us to what degree the product will protect us from UVA rays (the maximum accomplished is IPD 90, giving us 90% of protection) and PPD tells us how many times the amount of UVA rays absorbed by skin has been reduced.
- SFP factor: Also important is the SPF factor indicated by the manufacturer on the package. The higher the factor, the higher the protection, however the difference is not as big as you might think.
- Photostability of sunscreen: It is also important to pay attention to the photostability of the sunfilter, especially if we are going to use it on our face and intend to put make-up on later. Ensure it has a stabiliser.
- Antioxidants & moisturiser: Useful ingredients in sunscreens are antioxidants such as vitamin C, which reinforce the protective properties of filters and help to reverse the effects of sun damage. Vitamin C should be indicated as ‘ascorbic acid’ on the ingredients list of your sunscreen. The sun is very drying on the skin, so a sunscreen with added moisture, adds that extra bit of protection it needs in its fight against the sun.
So if you want to stay looking younger longer (and reduce your risk of getting skin cancer), then you must apply a quality sunscreen every single day. Yes, every day! It is one of the most commonly overlooked components of daily skin care routines.
Find out more about the Skin Rejuvenation & Repair services that Rejuvenation Clinics of Australia provide on their website.