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Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear…Sunscreen

Living in New Mexico at a higher altitude obviously means that we are closer to the sun and subject to more intense RV levels than those living at sea level. With this comes a higher risk of skin cancer and skin damage. The American Academy of Dermatology states in an article that elevation increases result in “approximately 8%-10% increase in ultraviolet intensity for each 1,000 feet of elevation”. At over 5,000 feet in elevation, our chances of developing melanoma or other skin problems is greatly increased, so protecting our skin is vital to a healthy lifestyle. The best way to do that is by wearing a physical barrier or broad spectrum sunscreen.

Wearing a sunscreen is the number one way to protect your skin. But are you using the right kind of sunscreen? I’ve always been an avid sunscreen applier. But until recently I learned that the sunscreen I was using was not fully protecting me. Most of the sunscreens sold over the counter are just chemical barrier sunscreens, not physical. For a sunscreen to be effective it needs to contain one of two ingredients or both, Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide.

Before I get ahead of myself let me briefly explain the difference of chemical and physical barrier sunscreens. Chemical barrier sunscreens work by absorbing UV rays. Chemical barriers are resistant to sweat and water but take 20 minutes to work. Because they are filled with chemicals the sun will break down their effectiveness causing the need to reapply.

Physical barrier (or mineral) sunscreens are when UV rays are reflected off the skin, not absorbed. Pam always says that physical barrier sunscreens “deflect radiation rays away from the skin like little mirrors.” Physical barrier sunscreen offers instant protection, and less frequent application. With physical you can put it on once a day and won’t need to reapply unless you are sweating it off.

Some that say chemical barrier sunscreens protect us more from UVA rays (“aging rays”) and physicals are better at protecting us from UVB rays (“burning rays”), I say just use a broad spectrum of BOTH and you’ll be covered. We need to better protect our skin against the nastiness of sun damage, and using this diverse approach is the most effective method of doing so. Hopefully spreading the word makes people more aware.

Let’s work at being Flawless together! Melissa

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