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Sun Damage & the Importance of Sunscreen

Sun protection best practices to keep your skin healthy

Young woman applying Rodan + Fields Essentials Face & Body Sunscreen to her neck

There is more to sun’s damage than just the burn. Over exposure to sunlight can accelerate aging, so it’s important to adopt some best practices to have healthier and younger-looking skin. As Dr. Katie Rodan says, “The first anti-aging product you should buy is the right sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection.” And that is the truth!

Let’s take a closer look at what’s going on under your skin when in the sun so that you better understand how to protect it.

How the Sun Damages Our Skin 

Scientific diagram illustrating how UVA and UVB rays penetrate the skin 

Only two ultra-violet rays from the sun reach Earth’s surface: UVB and UVA rays. UVB rays, which are shorter and responsible for sun burns, are strongest from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and heat up blood vessels that reach out to calm and heal the skin. These broken or busted capillaries can outlast the burn, and the heat from the rays dries out our inner and intercellular fluid, leaving flat, dead and dry skin cells to stack up.

UVA rays, which are longer and responsible for premature aging, penetrate the deepest dermis layer from sunup to sundown. It can take years before the damage surfaces, such as discoloration, wrinkles and sagging from broken-down collagen and elastin. Approximately 90% of premature skin aging is caused by the sun (according to The American Academy of Dermatology and the Canadian Dermatology Association).

Be Proactive: Long Term Sun Damage Is Real

Incidental sun damage adds up, like forgetting to put on sunscreen when walking the dog, sitting by a sunny window or driving in the car. Don’t forget that sun beams also reflect off of the sand, concrete, snow or shallow water – meaning you need to wear sunscreen and regularly reapply it when out and about.

Here’s a quick visual to demonstrate. Hold both arms out with one palm up and the other down. Which looks better – the toasty older-looking skin on the arm with your palm down or the unexposed inner skin on the arm with your palm up? Ta-dah!

Take Charge Like a Boss: The Importance of Sunscreen 

Sun protection is for everyone! Even warm, tan or deep skin tones can experience brown spots, melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation as well as all visible signs of aging. And sunscreen is not just for the summer; protecting yourself from the sun with an SPF or physical coverings like clothing or umbrellas should be practiced all year. Try going “Hollywood” by wearing a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sitting in the shade during peak daylight hours. Also keep in mind that different clothing has different levels of SPF.

When sunscreen is applied correctly, SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks 99% of UVB rays. Therefore, your best approach is to choose a high SPF sunscreen and make efforts throughout the day to stay out of the sun. (Psst: Rodan + Fields ESSENTIALS Face + Body Sunscreen with SPF 50 provides 80 minutes of water-resistant, broad-spectrum coverage without clogging pores or causing acne!)

Keep these tips in mind to ensure you are fully protected:

  • One application of sunscreen does not keep you safe all day. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outdoors and reapply it every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
  • Be thorough. Apply sunscreen to and behind the ears, on the back of the neck and hands and behind knees and feet. Don’t forget to use your fingertips to apply to your hair part!
  • Store sunscreen in a clean cooler for a refreshing re-application and keep it out of direct sunlight or heat.
  • Keep sunscreens in multiple areas so that you always have it on hand, like in your purse, your bathroom, in your car and near your front door.
  • For a safe summer glow, use Rodan + Fields Foaming Sunless Tan – avoid tanning beds at all costs!
  • Remember that the sun does not clear up acne, but simply masks redness by drying out pimples. UV rays can darken post-inflammatory acne marks, so it is best to fight acne with our UNBLEMISH or SPOTLESS Regimens instead.

Best News Ever: Redemption!

Skin renews on a regular basis, so avoiding the sun and being diligent with your sunscreen application can help your skin heal. Certain ingredients in skincare (and food!) can help as well, such as antioxidants. They help protect the skin from pollution and UV environmental aggressors that send free radicals and cause oxidative damage. You can take ingest foods or supplements with antioxidants or apply topicals that include them.

Some exfoliators and brighteners can make your skin more sun sensitive, so be extra vigilant with sun protection when using any type of, Retinol ingredients, or glycolic acids. And to be honest—you should avoid sun exposure if your serious about brightening your skin.. The Rodan + Fields REVERSE Regimen improves sun damaged skin in several different ways with. Exfoliators, brighteners, stabilized vitamin C, Retinal MD (potent but gentle) and RF3 Antioxidant Complex to visibly evening skin tone and increasing resilience to the environment.

Article by Mary Radford, RN

Mary Radford, RNBA, has an extensive background in Dermatology, Plastic Surgery, and Aesthetic Spas. She worked side by side with Dr Katie Rodan as a Registered Nurse in her Dermatology office before being recruited to Rodan + Fields in 2004, where she currently focuses on Field Education + Tools.

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