Healthy Skin: The Preservation of Our Largest Organ
Without the sun’s warm rays we would not be alive, but it has a cold side too -- it wreaks havoc on the dermis. Anyone who is informed about skincare or skin cancer prevention knows that applying a sun protection factor is necessary. If someone does not wear sunblock but has a fifteen-step skincare routine, then they might as well do nothing at all. As drastic as that may sound, applying a sun protection factor correctly is necessary for any skincare routine in order to prevent something as superficial as a few wrinkles and dark spots, or something as deadly as skin cancer.
There is a significant number of people who participate in a morning and night skincare regime to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, dark spots, or a lack of collagen. A consumer-based study was conducted and it stated, “In a 2017 survey among U.S. consumers, 52 percent reportedly used skincare products every day” (Shahbandeh). That is a large percentage of people who use skin care products and the individuals in the study said they were experiencing “dryness or aging as the main problems they were trying to address” (Shahbandeh). There are countless ingredients that solve different skin issues: peptides increase collagen production thus reducing dynamic lines and wrinkles, hyaluronic acid almost instantly removes dehydration lines, and hydroquinone stops the production of melanin which aids in the fading of certain types of dark spots. Those are only a few examples of skincare ingredients that a significant amount of people use day to day to fight against signs of aging. The best preventative measure for premature aging and skin cancer is applying a sun protection factor, but even if people are participating in a skincare ritual there is a big chance they are not applying sunscreen. An organization named RealSelf says, “According to a new survey from RealSelf, the leading online resource to learn about aesthetic procedures and connect with the doctors who provide them, only 10 percent of adults in the U.S. wear sunscreen every day, and almost half (47 percent) of Americans never wear sunscreen” (RealSelf). Generally speaking, it is good that people are trying to look and feel their best but if they are not applying a sun protection factor before walking out of their home, they might as well throw all of their products in the garbage.
There is a phrase that is thrown around the skincare community and industry that lays the sun protection factor principle out plain and simple: prevention is easier than treatment. This simply means that it is easier to prevent early aging and skin complications than applying countless serums to turn back the never-ending age clock or costly procedures to remove skin cancers. Sun protection factor is prevention for premature aging and skin cancers.
There are a few articles that suggest that a sun protection factor reverses signs of aging, but just blocking the UVA and UVB rays does not undo any skin damage done; it just prevents it from happening or getting worse. Popular skincare reviewing organization, Allure, states that “With just a daily application of moisturizer with SPF 30, participants saw improvements of 52 percent in mottled pigmentation (a.k.a. sunspots), 40 percent in skin texture, and 41 percent in skin clarity after a year of use” (Pai). This is true information, but the skin has a naturally occurring cell renewal phase every 28 days. What these individuals are seeing is their skin not being damaged and hindered by the sun’s ultraviolet rays every time they walk outside or by a window, so the dermis is given a chance to fix some of the sunspots and wrinkles present. An article discussing cell turnover rates and skin processes states, “Every 28-40 days, on average, a new skin cell is "born" in the stratum germinativum, the deepest layer of the epidermis. The cell travels up through the epidermis until it reaches the uppermost layer of the skin” (Palmer). If someone wants to target certain issues, it would be in their best interest to use the appropriate ingredients as well as a sun protection factor to see a significant improvement.
UVA and UVB rays from the sun cause premature aging such as fine lines and wrinkles. The sun's rays are actually the biggest contributor to the skin’s appearance of being aged. Everyday health states, “Damage from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause your skin to age prematurely — think wrinkles. The good news is that premature aging due to UV rays is largely preventable . . . Repeated overexposure to UV rays can lead to various forms of skin damage including fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, freckles, and other discolorations, scaly red patches, called actinic keratoses, thought to be the beginnings of skin cancer, tough, leathery skin that feels and looks dry and rough” (McCoy et al.). In order for a sunscreen to be effective, it has to be a broad-spectrum sun protection factor of at least 30; anything less than that will not block enough of the UVA and UVB rays. According to the New York Times, they said, “Studies over the years have shown that sunscreen with an SPF, or sun protection factor, of 30 blocks about 97 percent of ultraviolet rays . . . anything higher than 30 [SPF] remains in the 97 or 98 percent range [of protection]” (O'Connor). Something to note when choosing a sunscreen, it is not needed to spend extra money on a really high sun protection factor, so just as long as a 30 sun protection factor sunscreen is used correctly, it is sufficient for daily use.
McCoy, Krisha, et al. “The Aging Effects of UV Rays - Skin and Beauty Center - Everyday
Health.” EverydayHealth.com, 2009, www.everydayhealth.com/skin-and-beauty/aging-skin/effects-of-uv-radiation.aspx.
O'Connor, Anahad. “The Claim: With Sunscreens, High SPF Ratings Are Best.” The New York
Times, The New York Times, 7 Aug. 2007, www.nytimes.com/2007/08/07/health/07real.html.
Pai, Deanna. “This Anti-Ager Is a Game Changer-and You Probably Already Have It.” Allure,
Allure, 25 May 2017, www.allure.com/story/sunscreen-anti-aging-study.
Palmer, Angela. “Learn How Cell Turnover Can Contribute to Acne Development.” Verywell
Health, 25 Aug. 2020, www.verywellhealth.com/cell-turnover-15552.
RealSelf. 2019 RealSelf Sun Safety Report: Only 1 in 10 Americans Uses Sunscreen Daily; Men
Significantly More Likely Than Women to Reapply Sunscreen and Get Annual Skin Check. 24 July 2019,www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/2019-realself-sun-safety-
Shahbandeh, M. Topic: U.S. Skin Care Market. 2020,
Healthline Media, 30 July 2019, www.healthline.com/health/can-black-people-get-sunburn.