It’s natural. When the sun is shining and the weather is lovely and warm, you want to be outside. A day at the beach, a nice afternoon hike, you name it. And I’m right there with you – nothing beats hiking to the top of a summit and being rewarded with a breathtaking view, seeing the sun glint off of the surface of a lake that is now far below me. Being outside and reconnecting with nature can be a wonderful way to relax and recharge.
I suppose you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, right? Waiting for me to say that we should all give up our love of the outdoors and stay inside. Well, it’s not going to happen. SimplySunSafe is not about hiding from the sun, but staying safe in the face of the sun’s powerful rays. I don’t know about you, but I for one am a human and not a hermit crab. There is absolutely nothing wrong with spending as much time outdoors as you can – as long as you wear sunscreen.
This post is going to cover 5 reasons that I hope will help you see why sunscreen is so important. It may be easier to brush off the reasons outlined below as overly cautious or unimportant, but I’d like you to give them a chance.
The fact is, the sun is beautiful but can most definitely harm us. Even in today’s culture that prizes golden brown tans year-round, nobody has ever been pleased to have a sunburn. And sunburns are just scratching the surface of the sun’s potential to damage our bodies.
1. Sun damage accelerates the signs of aging
Let’s be honest, the leathery look is for alligators, not 45 year-olds. Sun damage to our skin, as a result of repeated exposure, accelerates the skin’s aging process by reducing the skin’s moisture levels and the integrity of the individual cells. As a result, you get wrinkles early.
Your wrinkles get deeper, and spread. Your skin is chronically dehydrated due to constant sun exposure, and as its looses its ability to fully retain moisture it begins to appear thicker as dead cells cling to the now permanently damaged surface of your skin.
In fact, according to Unity Point Health of Des Moines, the number one cause of premature signs of facial skin aging is sun exposure. Do your future self a favor, and lather on that sunscreen, my friend.
2. Sun damage weakens your skin
Repeated sun exposure without the use of sunscreen not only causes unpleasant changes in the way our skin looks, but actually damages our skin on a cellular level. The sun’s powerful rays cause initial damage to your skin cells. Normally this would be fine, and your skin would be able to heal the damage and move on. That is the process of a sunburn.
However, when this happens time and again, specific types of cell damage called nucleotide damage and oxidative stress occur. Those sound complicated, but here’s the simple version: your cells stop being able to repair the damage. The skin is weakened, and bruises easily. This can even cause DNA damage to the cells, which results in mutations of the cell’s DNA.
3. Skin cancer
Alright folks, I’m pulling out the big guns. If vanity and skin damage weren’t enough to convince you, maybe the big C word will help. Now, you might be rolling your eyes right. Thinking that people make skin cancer out to be more common than it is or that it won’t happen to you. I’m sorry, but that’s simply not true. Skin cancer is so easily preventable with the proper use of sunscreen, but so many people fall victim to this disease every year.
That skin weakening I mentioned before, the one that causes DNA damage and cell mutations? I forgot to mention that damage like that can happen without visible signs like a sunburn. That you can go out in the sun every weekend, thinking you’re doing just fine because you don’t get burned. Then, one day, you notice an unfamiliar mark on your skin. A mark that wasn’t there before. It happened to me. It can happen to you, too.
4. Prevent sunburns
Alright, if looking old before your time didn’t get you, and you’re in denial about the risk of cancer, maybe simply avoiding the discomfort of a sunburn will. It takes less than five minutes to apply sunscreen.
That means reapply as needed while in the sun to avoid a sunburn takes, truly, almost no time out of your enjoyable outing. What’s more, it will keep you from having red, tender, painful skin for a few days afterwards, followed by still more days of peeling while the skin tries to heal. I mean, unless that seems like a good time you, but somehow I doubt it.
5. Be an example
The last reason I have for you today, and possibly the most important, is to be an example to those around you. Especially the younger ones. Imagine your child or younger sibling getting skin cancer. Reflexively, you ask them why they didn’t wear sunscreen to protect themselves. Upset and worried over the diagnosis, you’re looking for some reason as to why this happened. The answer is more than you bargained for.
They say that they never wore sunscreen because nobody else in their family did. They grew up thinking it wasn’t that big of a deal. If you have a close relationship to that person, chances are that hearing this is going sting quite a bit. So be part of the solution that helps prevent that kind of problem. Wear sunscreen, if not for yourself, to set a good example for those you love so that they will never have to go through the nightmare that is skin cancer.
You’ve taken the time to read this blog, and hopefully that means you’re really interested in learning why sunscreen is so important. My best advice to you is this: don’t stop here. Keep reading, keep learning. Check out helpful sources of information on the sun’s effects, like the Cleveland Clinic, and the SimplySunSafe sunscreen buyer’s guides. Thank you for reading, and please, put on some sunscreen!