The greatest anti-aging hack: sun protection

There’s no denying it, most people are on a mission to look younger. In fact, the anti-aging market is expected to be valued at $71.7B in the U.S. this year. And while there are endless impressive products and treatments (with more developed every day) to address this demand, arguably the best way to keep your skin looking young and fresh is much easier than you might think: protect it from the sun. 

Find products that work for you 

The solution isn’t to avoid the sun – being outside has so many wonderful physical and mental health benefits that everyone should seek out. In the best-case scenario, you already wear sunscreen every day and reapply regularly. But for most, this isn’t the case. That’s why choosing the right sunscreen for you is more than necessary and can depend on climate and how your skin reacts to specific products. Some people are sensitive to sunscreen, so it’s critical to find something you like to put on every day. Your daily sunscreen should feel good when applied and not irritate your skin. Here are a few favorites which you can purchase through Lamb Medical

  • Sunscreen + Powder SPF 45: Most people are used to traditional, cream-based sunscreens, but this powdered sunscreen leans closer to makeup with different options for skin tone and is applied (and reapplied) with a brush. 
  • Smart Tone Broad-Spectrum SPF 50: A lightweight and self-adjusting sunscreen that goes on white and blends in with your skin tone. It’s easy to wear and isn’t heavy, with ingredients and peptides with growth factors that help nourish your skin with a great SPF. 
  • Gel Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum SPF 50: Water and sweat resistant with a complexion-smoothing finish that gives you a glow. It has a soft, slippery feel that isn’t greasy and does not smell like typical sunscreen. This option is great for men, who might not be as accepting of skin products. 
  • Daily Sheer Broad-Spectrum SPF 50: Great for people with dry skin or who are swimming all the time in the summer. This sunscreen is great for hydration and stronger staying power, with protection from UVA/UVB and IR-A rays as well as HEV light. 

ZO is also releasing a mineral sunscreen that’s reef friendly, which is all the rage for those who are more cognizant of how chemicals can wash off and damage lakes, ocean water, wildlife, and natural habitats. 

Reapply regularly, find shade, and avoid baking 

Loving your sunscreen is critical because you must reapply it throughout the day. Summertime is full of swimming (and sweating) and spending all day in the sun, which makes reapplication of your sunscreen crucial. But people often forget or won’t take the time to reapply, or worse, think their SPF is high enough that they won’t need to reapply. Sure, SPFs over 50 have extra products to create a sun barrier, like zinc or titanium which provide an opaqueness block and can be helpful for those prone to burning, but it does not mean you can stay outside all day without reapplication. SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, symbolizes how long you can stay in the sun without burning. For example, SPF 50 should protect you 50 times as long as your skin can protect itself without sunscreen. A more mathematical way to think about this is the percentage of UVB rays blocked by your SPF. SPF 15 blocks 93%, SPF 30 blocks 97%, and SPF 50 blocks 98%. That means if you choose an SPF 50 sunscreen over SPF 30, you’re only allowing an extra proton of light to reach your skin. Sunscreens with really high SPFs don’t offer much greater coverage than an SPF 30 and sometimes don’t even offer broad spectrum coverage of both UVB and UVA protection, which you should always seek out in your sunscreens. These high SPFs also might be more difficult to tolerate with extra product, which is why even though an SPF 30 is a lower number, applying it more frequently than only putting on a high SPF once will ultimately be more effective. Overall, it’s best to stick with an SPF 30 or SPF 50 for the best broad-spectrum protection. 

SPF shouldn’t be the end-all be all of sun protection, either. Any kind of proper barrier to the sun is great, like wide-brimmed hats that cover the back of the ears and the neck, which are areas particularly susceptible to skin cancer due to so much direct sun exposure. Generally, it’s best to stay out of direct sun exposure between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Venturing out in the morning and afternoon when the sun is weaker is better, and finding shade is also key. If you’re at the beach, don’t be afraid to use an umbrella! 

Generally, being active outdoors is better than baking in the sun, just be sure to stay hydrated. In previous generations, it was normal to spend a day lounging by the pool covered in baby oil trying to get that deep tan. But those days are behind us. It’s no longer worth the risk of Melanoma or the consequences of premature aging. If you want that bronze look, consider getting a spray tan. 

Be mindful of irregularities 

Protecting your skin is half the battle. The other half is paying attention to how and if your skin appears different over time. New spots can be concerning, and if you notice new or changing moles or lesions, please schedule an appointment to have them evaluated. Even though these spots are often benign, some will need a biopsy to determine if they are cancerous. If you’re someone with very fair skin or a personal or family history of skin conditions, you should be seen regularly by a family doctor or dermatologist. 

Although it’s best practice to develop strong sun protection habits at a young age, it’s also impossible to rewind the clock. There’s a misconception that because you are regularly applying sunscreen in your later decades, you will be immune to spots, lesions, and potential skin cancers. But in reality, most of the damage is done before your twenties due to hindered or faulty cell repair mechanisms. If you damage your cell repair mechanisms at an early age, you can experience consequences later in life due to previous exposure. If you find yourself suffering from the cosmetic side effects of sun damage – wrinkling, changes in pigmentation, decreased elasticity, rough textures, redness, or broken capillaries – there are a variety of solutions that can help you feel more confident in your skin, like laser treatments or lightening creams.  

Following proper sun guidance is crucial, and we should continue to think and talk about these, although somewhat basic, important steps to protecting your skin from potential sun damage. If you have any questions or are interested in learning more, feel free to reach out to us online or give us a call at 724-969-LAMB (5262).