By CATHI AYCOCK
Wrinkles are not a forgone conclusion.
Yes, skin is going to age. But we could literally cut wrinkles and skin laxity in half if we behaved. And by behave I mean use sunscreen every day and use it correctly.
Total truth here. I use sunscreen. But after talking with plastic surgeon Dr. Nathan Brought, I realized wasn’t using it correctly, thereby growing wrinkles.
As I get older, I want to grow in wisdom and kindness. But I am not in the wrinkle-growing business. At least not now.
Below are the things you need to know about applying sunscreen this summer. Because a bumper crop of wrinkles is not something you want to harvest come Labor Day. Or far more dire? Skin cancer.
Higher is Not Better
Using an SPF higher than 30 is not necessarily better.
“I tell my patients that SPF 70 is not 40-percent better than SPF 30.It makes sense for someone to think that an SPF of 30 is twice as good as an SPF of 15 and so on. But that isn’t how it works,” explains Dr. Brought.
SPF stands for sun protection factor, which measures the amount of time you can spend outside before the sun-blocking effect wears off. So if you use SPF 15, your skin can stand the sun for 15 times longer than it would be able to unprotected.
“A SPF 30 or 45 is going to protect you. What is more important than looking for an SPF over 30 is to make sure your sunscreen is blocking out UVA and UVB rays,” explains Dr. Brought.
UVA rays can prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkling and age spots. UVB rays can burn your skin. Too much exposure to UVA or UVB rays can cause skin cancer.
So your skin needs protection from both UVA and UVB rays, available in what sometimes is called broad spectrum sunscreen.
The Three Hour Rule
In addition to looking for broad spectrum sunscreen and an adequate SPF, Dr. Brought says a three-hour rule, well, rules.
“You can’t apply a sunscreen in the morning and have it work all through the day. You need to reapply at least every three hours. Otherwise, even the best sunscreen, is not going to be effective after that window of time,” says Dr. Brought.
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and The American Academy of Dermatology 2017 SPOT Skin Cancer campaign — “Check Your Partner. Check Yourself” — is encouraging women to check both their partners and themselves for signs of skin cancer. When detected early, skin cancer — including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer — is highly treatable. For more information, click here.