7 reasons to wear sunscreen
Sunscreen protects you from more than just sunburn.
BY: Dr Kwan Yuan Dong
We have read and heard numerous times about the dangers of the ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, on TV, in advertising, and from doctors. UV rays age our skins and can cause skin cancers.
Yet, some of us still find that putting on sunscreen is too much a hassle.
Still not convinced you need to apply sunscreen before your next outing? Here are seven reasons why wearing sunscreen is important:
- It decreases your risk of possibly developing deadly cancer – There is a direct association between lifetime sun exposure and a variety of skin cancers, including squamous cell carcinomas, melanomas, basal cell carcinomas. Using sunscreen daily, even when it is a cloudy or rainy day dramatically decreases your risk of developing these, between 40 to 50 percent.
- It keeps you looking young – UV exposure is the number one cause of premature ageing of the face. UV-A (a type of UV light which is associated with skin ageing, while UV-B is associated with skin burning) penetrates the skin more deeply and induces mutations in the basal epidermis where our skin stem cells divide. Accumulated mutations will eventually deteriorate our cells. By wearing sunscreen, you can slow down this ageing process and delay the development of wrinkles and leathery skin.
- Sunscreen keeps your skin tone even – In addition to slowing down ageing in our skin, sunscreen also prevents the development of brown spots and skin discolouration.
- The ozone layer is depleting – The ozone acts as a sun shield of the earth by absorbing harmful UV-B rays before they reach the ground. It is also why UV-A makes up 95 percent of the UV rays reaching the surface of the earth. As the ozone layer depletes, we need added protection from these harmful rays.
- Sun damage is cumulative – One of the ways dermatologists categorise skin types are based on the way they burn and tan. However, regardless of skin type and even if your skin type does not burn easily, wearing sunscreen is still important. This is because sunburn is only an immediate reaction of your skin to UV exposure, but sun damage is accumulated over a lifetime. Skin cancer does not discriminate against any skin type, as long as sun exposure builds up over time on unprotected skin.
- Applying sunscreen is convenient – We now have many sunscreen options, from sprays, balms, to sunscreen imbued in moisturisers, facial and cosmetic products. Applying sunscreen is more convenient than it has ever been. However, it is also very important to re-apply every two hours to keep up the SPF protection, and after getting out of the water if you swim or engage in water sports.
- Sunscreen protects you from more than a sunburn – Sunburns, with red burning and stinging skin, is an unpleasant experience. However, there are other things that sun exposure can cause, including heatstroke and heat exhaustion. Putting on sunscreen protects you to a certain extent, and when in combination with precautions such as hydration, can help you avoid these issues.
It is never too late to start integrating sun-safe habits into your life. By putting on sunscreen and even using oral sunscreen (consumed in the form of pills) (this should not be used to replace topical sunscreen but to complement protection against harmful UV damage) regularly, especially during the most intense UV exposure of the day from 10am to 4pm, you can help protect yourself from the harmful effects of UV.
** Dr Kwan Yuan Dong is a medical aesthetic doctor at S Aesthetics Clinic.