It may not feel like it, thanks to cold temperatures and cloudy days, but the Sun’s UV rays are just as damaging in the winter as they are in the summer. This is especially true for those of us that enjoy winter sports and are spending a good chunk of the day outside. Not one of those people? Well, you still need SPF: simply driving in the car, standing by a window, or taking a quick walk down the street exposes you to those harmful rays.
The Vitamin D Debate
Many people don’t wear sunscreen because they argue that the average human doesn’t get enough Vitamin D. People from ages 1 to 70 should be getting 600 IU of Vitamin D a day, while those over 70 should step it up to 800 IU a day. While this may differ from many reports you’ve read, the Institute of Medicine found that the majority of Americans are getting the dosage of Vitamin D they need, even while using sunscreen. However, if you are concerned about your vitamin d intake, the skin cancer foundation recommends getting 5-10 minutes of unprotected sun exposure 2-3 times a week. Then, after that allotted time slather on the SPF! If you’re still worried about how much Vitamin D you’re taking in you can always add a Vitamin D supplement into your diet to make-up the difference. There are also plenty of foods that are chock full of Vitamin D such as fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, and salmon,) foods fortified with Vitamin D, cheese, and egg yolks.
Why SPF Matters
Today it’s hard to do anything without hearing that scary ‘C’ word: cancer. Skin cancer is a type that doesn’t get quite as much focus, but it should: “there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.” (American Cancer Society, 2015.) While many of these cases are not fatal and can easily be removed, it’s still concerning. Here are just a few more facts regarding skin cancer thanks to the Skin Cancer Foundation:
- “One in five American’s will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.”
- Basal Cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer, though rarely fatal, can becoming disfiguring.
- Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, with 1 person dying from it every hour
- “1 in 50 men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma of the skin during their lifetime”
- “On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns.”
- “More than 419,000 cases of skin cancer in the US each year are linked to indoor tanning…”
- “More people develop skin cancer because of tanning than develop lung cancer from smoking”
- “One indoor tanning session increases users’ risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by 67% and basal cell carcinoma by 29%”
- “More than 90% of the visible changes commonly attributed to skin aging are caused by the Sun.”
- “People who use sunscreen daily show 24 percent less skin aging than those who do not use sunscreen daily.” (Skin Cancer Facts, 2015.)
Types of SPF
The days of greasy, thick white sunscreen are long gone. While there are still many sunscreens that are like this, we now have many other options available for every possible skin type.
- Chemical Sunscreen: Chemical sunscreens allow the Sun’s rays to enter the skin, which is then converted to heat energy and released from the skin. Chemical sunscreens are great for people who are concerned with their sunscreen giving them a white appearance. Chemical sunscreens are not good for everyone though: because chemical sunscreens generate heat those with extra sensitive skin may find this exacerbates their problems. Chemical sunscreens can also start to create a burning sensation as you sweat. If this type sounds right for you, look for active ingredients such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate.
- Physical Sunscreen: Physical sunscreens use minerals, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to physically block the Sun’s rays from ever entering the skin. This is great because there is very little heating of the skin, making physical sunscreens an ideal match for people with sensitive skin. One thing to watch out for with physical sunscreens is, because they form a physical barrier, they can sometimes impart a white sheen to the face. Also, some formulas can feel a little greasy compared to their chemical counterparts. However, this is quickly fixed by powder SPFs, such as Jane Iredale’s Powder Me SPF, which comes in both translucent and tanned. This skin cancer foundation recommended product has a sun protection factor of 30 and is even water resistant for up to 40 minutes!
Everyone knows a tan looks beautiful, but healthy skin is so much more beautiful. No tan is worth the damaging effects of the Sun, so take charge of your health and apply some SPF today.
American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2015. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@editorial/documents/document/acspc-044552.pdf. Accessed January 9, 2016.
Skin Cancer Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved January 2, 2016, from http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts