Thursday, July 18, 2013

I can see the sun coming up!

Dear blog readers,

Recently I had a skin scan to determine my skin age, and I must say... the shock did me well. It made me realize I should take care of skin much better. It made me think about all those years I didn't put any SPF (sun protection factor) on my face. *looks disappointed to myself*

The UV scan is called 'Smarter in the sun' and it was an initiative of the Cancer foundation in Belgium. Basically you answer some questions such as 'Do you go to tanning beds?', 'Do you smoke?', ... Afterwards you get in to have the scan taken. The portrait, which is taken with UV light, will determine what your skin age is.
I'm 26 years old, and my skin age is 33.
My wrinkles show up on my face: 3/10 (which is very thin, yay!) The lady told me Asian people don't get bothered with premature aging, so I'm glad I'm scoring good on something.
My pigmentation on my skin got a score of 4/10, which is pretty bad.

As I can't go back anymore, I can only prevent my skin from getting worse.
About a month ago I was "already" determined to take better care of my skin from now on. I bought a couple of sunscreens to protect my skin, but here's a little explanation on the ABC's of UV, abbreviations I'm sure you've heard of before:
UVA = Ultraviolet A, this is also known as a long wave. This will cause the aging of the skin (cause less elastin of the skin, darker melanin, more pigmentation
UVB = Ultraviolet B, or known as the medium wave. This will harm the superficial layers of the skin and mostly causing burning of the skin. (cause the typical sunburn symptoms such as redness and itching)
UVC = Ultraviolet C, or short wave, for which sunscreens doesn't provide any protection. (apparently these rays are so strong they can even kill small organisms)

If you have any trouble remembering what UV stands for, here's a good mnemonic:

UVA = aging, UVB = burning and UVC = carcinoma (common type of cancer) 

Next to UV's, nowadays most sunscreens have an indication of a PA (Protection Grade of UVA). PA rankings are listed as PA+, PA++ or PA+++ with the more plus symbols the more protection from UVA rays. This doesn't protect you from any of the UVB rays. 

SPF rating, on the other hand, offers protection against UVB rays, the rays that causes those nasty sunburns.

Now for the factor.

Do you wonder what the number stands for after SPF?
Well, just apply the '*10-rule' and bye bye to standing clueless at the drugstore! Don't know what the '*10-rule is'? Let me set a few examples for you:
SPF 15: 15*10 = 150 -> This equals 2,5 hours (150/60 minutes) of protection
SPF 30: 30*10 = 300 -> This equals 5 hours of protection
SPF 50: 50*10 = 500 -> This equals about 8 hours of protection

It's recommended that you daily use a minimum SPF of 15, so let's slather on some sunscreen like you've never done before :)

Toxic ingredient, oxybenzone:

I've heard a lot of contradictions when it comes to oxybenzone. Is it good? Is it bad? Frankly, I still don't know...

Some sunscreens contain the chemical oxybenzone. This should absorb UV light, but some research show the chemical can be absorbed through the skin. Apparently it is linked to hormone disruption and can cause cell damage leading to skin cancer.
Others say it is safe because it provides an effective briad spectrum protection from UV rays.

I'm afraid we just have to wait until scientific experiments to show whether oxybenzone  is harmful or not. Until then, I wouldn't use it...

I'm not going to be a hypocrite and tell you one shouldn't go outside and enjoy the sun, but just be careful. Keep on enjoying the sun, just be smart about it. Make sure you put on sunscreen before leaving the house (preferably 30 minutes before getting exposed to the sun) and stay away from those tanning beds! Have fun and make those wonderful summer memories, just be nice to your skin. Your skin will be grateful to you on a long term :)

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