The Weekly Journal | Health

By Yenia Hernandez Fonseca - March 24, 2022

THREE WAYS:

PROTECT YOUR SKIN FROM UV RADIATION

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Right now, some of us are dreaming of warm weather and golden landscapes. Others are out catching the remaining winter waves before the end of the month. But, finally, after four long months of cold, crisp temperatures, we can officially announce spring’s grand arrival. 

Outdoor activities are definitely events we look forward to like hitting the California coastline, visiting remote Scottish beaches, or driving along Portuguese cliffs. The thought of planning an adventurous escape is enough to boost your dopamine levels. And, even though the heater at our house is still on – ours is set at 22 °C, mid-March (!!!) – we know it’ll be sunny and balmy in no time. 

This change of weather immediately manifests in the way we dress and what we do. Rising temperatures call for new activities and rituals like reading on the terrace, drinking iced coffees, and introducing a higher SPF sunscreen to our daily routine. We can now venture outside in lightweight cotton jackets and jersey tees. But as we will gradually get rid of layers of clothing with the changing of seasons, our skin will certainly need higher protection against exposure to the sun's broad spectrum of harmful UV rays. 

What happens to our skin under the sun?

Skin is our body's largest organ. Made of water, protein, fats and minerals, it provides a protective barrier against mechanical, thermal and physical injury. With a total area of about 20 square feet, our skin helps regulate body temperature with its blood supply. 

Skin acts as our very own thermostat. When we’re cold, our blood vessels stop our body from losing heat by contracting, keeping warm blood away from the skin's surface. On the other hand, blood vessels dilate in hot temperatures allowing large amounts of blood to circulate near the surface so that heat can be released. However, prolonged exposure to the sun's ultraviolet light can cause major damage. 

While skin naturally protects our body from radiation, there are two types of UV light that contribute to the risk for cumulative, unrepaired damage. UVA rays have a longer wavelength, affect the innermost part of the skin and are associated with aging. UVB rays have a shorter wavelength, affect the outer layer of the skin and are associated with burning. While both differ in how they affect the skin, both UVA and UVB rays damage the DNA in skin cells, producing genetic defects or mutations that can lead to sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer. 

The good news is that many of the dangers posed by UV radiation can be reduced by taking simple, smart measures to protect ourselves, like using broad-spectrum sunscreen, sun-safe clothing, hats and eyewear.

1. Know your sunscreen

Sun can be your skin’s worst enemy. It's not just those days at the beach that cause issues. Each time you go on your afternoon hike, get the mail, or walk the dog without sun protection increases your chances of developing skin cancer. Before you buy sunscreen, it's important to know what sun protection factor, or SPF, means. SPF measures how well a particular sunscreen protects you from sunburn – it’s the number you see on the bottle. In other words, this number tells you how long it would take the sun's UV rays to burn your skin. So, for example, if you use an SPF 15 sunscreen, you would burn 15 times slower than if you weren't wearing sunscreen. There are many sunscreens in the market so finding the one you like the best may take trial and error. But in order to receive the full SPF protection noted on the bottle, you’ll need to apply the sunscreen liberally and evenly. Lather it on! Many of us under-apply sunscreen, and unfortunately, miss out on getting the right levels of SPF protection listed on the bottle. A label that says "broad spectrum" means that the sunscreen contains ingredients that provide protection from both UVA and UVB rays. UVA is EVERYWHERE: it’s present in much higher levels in sunlight than UVB. While slightly less intense than UVB, UVA penetrates your skin more deeply. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For prolonged outdoor activity, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. And remember, sunscreen rubs off and sweats off, so it should be reapplied at least every two hours. Yes, you can burn even when you’re in the water, so reapplying regularly if you’re swimming or sweating is important. Keep in mind that a higher SPF number doesn’t necessarily mean better protection from sun damage, it just means you’ll have more wiggle room in times when you didn’t apply enough sunscreen or you forgot to reapply.

2. Don’t rely on sunscreen alone

If you can, avoid direct sunlight from 10 am to 2 pm when UV rays are at their peak. If you must be outdoors during this time period, try to enjoy the sunny weather by walking on the shady side of the street, using a sun-protective umbrella, or even duck under a covered porch or a tree. 

Clothing can also act as a barrier against the sun’s ultraviolet rays, plus it doesn’t wear off like sunscreen does. The more skin you cover, the better. Broad-brimmed hats cover the areas of your body that are often exposed to the sun, such as your scalp, hair, face, ears, and neck. We recommend you opt for a bucket hat instead of a baseball cap. Protect your eyes by wearing UV-blocking sunglasses. 

Still, shade and clothing aren’t perfect shields. Remember, you still need UV protection even when you’re under cover, as the sun’s rays reflect off many surfaces, especially sand and water. 

3. Protection starts inside

While glass blocks UVB rays just fine, it still allows UVA rays to pass through. This applies to glass from windows at home, in your car, airplanes, trains, or buses. Before you hit the road or board a plane this season, apply broad-spectrum sunscreen generously all over your skin. Consider installing UV-protective film on the windows in your home and car.  

Staying indoors? Staring at screens from electronics for hours at a time can break down skin's collagen supply. Surprisingly enough, UV light represents only 7% of the damaging energy that reaches the skin. There is solid evidence that infrared radiation (IRA) and blue light (also known as high-energy visible light) from our computer, smartphone, or tablet, can have long and short term impacts on the skin. IRA causes the formation of free radicals and its accumulation decreases the amount of antioxidants that prevent cellular damage and premature aging. 

Prolonged exposure to blue light may cause brown spots on the skin and hyperpigmentation.

The average Canadian spends 3.5 hours or more online per day. 

Besides taking breaks from your screen to curb blue light’s negative effects, protect your complexion by wearing mineral sunscreen daily. Dermatologists recommend keeping your devices at a distance while using them and applying a broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen containing zinc oxide and iron dioxide to protect your skin from UVA rays and blue light. Using apps like Redshift and f.lux on your phone can help reduce your exposure to blue light.

Odyssey Wide Brim Hat
Odyssey Wide Brim Hat
A black unisex waterproof watersport hat made in canada with polyurethane and reflective piping to stay visible
Odyssey Wide Brim Hat
Odyssey Wide Brim Hat
Odyssey Wide Brim Hat
Odyssey Wide Brim Hat
Odyssey Wide Brim Hat
Odyssey Wide Brim Hat
A black unisex waterproof watersport hat made in canada with polyurethane and reflective piping to stay visible
Odyssey Wide Brim Hat
Odyssey Wide Brim Hat
Odyssey Wide Brim Hat
Odyssey Wide Brim Hat

Odyssey Wide Brim Hat

$175.00
The Odyssey Wide Brim Hat was designed to extend the purpose of the Saint Foy Bucket Hat. A completely polyurethane construction with rubber decoration comes together to create a sleek, structured, and water resistant silhouette for rainy excursions. The Odyssey Wide Brim Hat has, as you might suspect, a wider brim than its Saint Foy cousin. It also features an adjustable elastic tie for added security as well as reflective components to improve visibility in dark or foggy conditions. One size fits most.