Is it just me, or do you hear your Mother’s voice in your head reminding you to apply sunscreen every time you head poolside for a day of tanning, or to the beach to frolic in the sand (in the pre-Covid days, at least). The reminder is inevitably followed by the threat of a burn, or worse, skin cancer when she’s really trying to drive her point home. The truth of the matter is that her concern is entirely justifiable- but that doesn’t stop us from rolling our eyes when she shakes that bottle of white, thick goop in her hand.
As time has gone on and we’ve become more informed about skincare, it’s become obvious that our moms were right all along- we should be wearing SPF every time we step outside- whether you’re on a hike or strolling the city streets. Sunlight, with its UVA/UVB and visible light rays, are known to be very harmful to the skin (and eyes!). More importantly, the possibility of skin cancer, and melanoma in particular, is a harsh reality. Melanoma is the number one most diagnosed cancer for women between the ages of 25 and 29, and your risk for eventually contracting it doubles when you’ve had more than five sunburns. That isn’t to scare you, however, as skin cancer is also very avoidable— in fact, research shows that 90 percent of melanomas are preventable with proper sun safety habits. Phew, good thing we’re wearing SPF every day, right?
Now that we’re spending all day inside, however, what’s the point in putting on sunscreen? We’re not seeing much of the sun, but we’re certainly seeing a lot of our laptop. It turns out, that’s exactly why wearing SPF indoors is so important. After speaking with Dr. Loretta Ciraldo MD FA
According to Dr. Loretta, “we dermatologists now recognize that we should also be protecting our skin from indoor exposure to HEV Blue Light (also know as AVL, which stands for Artificial Visible Light). This blue light comes from artificial sources such as your laptop, iPad, TV, phone, and basically any other screen you interact with throughout the day. Aka, all the things we’re using all day long. In fact, if you suffer from hyperpigmentation (like acne scars!), Dr. Loretta has noticed that many of her younger patients (ie. us) suffer from acne scars only in the areas that they hold their cell phone up to their faces. Basically, your cell phone could literally be making your skin worse.
Blue light isn’t the only threat to your skin indoors, however. We all know there’s a lot of pollution outdoors (especially if you live in a city like New York), but “the WHO tells us indoor pollution levels are higher than outside pollution.” If you’re wondering what pollution has to do with your skin, Dr. Loretta explains that “pollution including dust mite exposure is known to worsen breakouts and is responsible for making lines and creases deeper and producing dark spots like acne marks.” Basically the whole world seems to be coming for our skin, and SPF is our best defender.
The best sunscreens, according to Dr. Loretta, combine light protection with antioxidants. “That’s because antioxidants protect our skin from free radical damage and add an extra layer of protection. Additionally, an antioxidant that fights pollution will give your skin the best protection.”
So, what sunscreen should we be on the lookout for to battle outdoor sunlight, indoor blue light, and the high levels of pollution we’re encountering everywhere? In order to keep our skin clear and healthy, Dr. Loretta recommends a broad-spectrum sunscreen with pollution protection and an SPF between 30-60. The idea of “the more the better” doesn’t actually apply to SPF- higher SPF’s actually expose us to more potentially irritating ingredients, and typically provide less UVA protection- which is definitely not what we’re looking for.
Slip your SPF into your daily skincare routine as a final step- after your many serums and creams, of course- for a beautiful glow that not only keeps your skin feeling good, but looking good too. Finding the right SPF product for you takes time, but since you’re just starting on this journey, why not take a look at Dr. Loretta’s? We always support skincare by experts (especially when they’re women!).