I’m always lecturing my friends and my boyfriend about the importance of sunscreen. (Although he will never wear any, no matter how much I nag.) About 80% of damage to our skin is done by the sun, not to mention the possibility of skin cancer. Now, you may be thinking, Paca, It’s the winter and it’s cloudy outside. Why would I need sunscreen?
No matter if it’s cloudy or rainy, fall or winter, whether you’ll be indoors or not, the sun is always carrying out its evil plans of destruction! Can you tell I hate the sun? Even in all of the situations stated above, the sun’s UV rays are present and at work. They definitely have the ability to damage your skin, no matter what season or where you are. This is why I urge everyone to always use sunscreen everyday!
There’s the matter of what kind of sunscreen to use, and how to use it effectively (yes, there is a correct way), and it may seem a little overwhelming, so let’s start out with SPF. There are so many different sunscreens that offer numerous amounts of SPF. Does higher SPF mean better protection? Nope! It might sound weird, but a sunscreen with SPF 30 is all you need—but no less than SPF 30. SPF is the Sun Protection Factor, which is what protects your skin from damage by UVB rays. UVB rays are the ones that some may be familiar with: they’re the rude ones that cause sunburn. They’re also a major player in the development of skin cancer. On the other hand, UVA rays are the rays that pierce down to the deeper layers of our skin. These rays contribute to tanning and my worst enemy, photoaging, which means wrinkles and signs of skin aging due to sun exposure.
A higher PA rating equals more UVA protection. In American sunscreens, the PA isn’t really apparent, and often is not listed. Instead, the term “Broad Spectrum” is used to suggest that there is some UVA protection offered. In many Asian sunscreens (e.g. Japanese and Korean), the PA value is represented by a number of +. The more + there are, the higher the protection. In Japanese sunscreens, the PA values range from + to ++++ and in Korean sunscreens, the PA values range from + to +++.
So when you buy a sunscreen, go for at least SPF 30 with a PA rating of ++++ for Japanese sunscreens, and +++ for Korean sunscreens. I suggest the highest PA value, just to be safe, but then again, I have waged a lifelong war against sun exposure. When applying, don’t be cautious: more is more! You don’t have to look like you just took a pie to the face, but be generous. You need enough to be protected, so think of it as a suit of armor: a full body suit of metal armor is going to be much more effective than just a helmet.
Just to nag a little more, make sure you apply sunscreen everyday! It’s going to be a huge skin savior and trust me, you’ll be able to see it in a couple of years (or decades…but it’s still worth it)!