Understand Sunscreen…or die.

Sunscreen is inconvenient to a point where it’s hard to be certain if the benefits are completely worth the frustration. Technically, by using measures of vanity and longevity, the benefit of using sunscreen regularly does far outweigh the hassle.

Depending on the type of sun protection used the pros can range from reducing the risk of skin cancer to increasing the time spent as a desirable and attractive person. The sun can destroy not only the quality of you looks but also the quality of your life.

Before or after the end of the world skin cancer will be the most commonly occurring and easily addressed of the cancers. But sunscreen isn’t only about skin cancer: it’s also about staying pretty and looking young for as long as possible.

The sun provides UV rays in a number of forms.

A few of these forms are plotting to kill you.

UVA will get under you skin and age you prematurely. UVB will give you sunburns and skin cancer. UVC will wait patiently for the silly mortals to destroy the ozone so it can pop in and turn the earth into a scorching wasteland where everyone lives underground and fights for water.

Name

Abbreviation

Notes / alternative names

How it will kill you

Ultraviolet A

UVA

Long-wave, black light, not absorbed by the ozone layer

Ew; your face…

You’ll lose your looks and thus weaken your negotiation ability and lower your social status, you ugly old hag.

Ultraviolet B

UVB

Medium-wave, mostly absorbed by the ozone layer

Slowly rotting like a statue in a slow motion fire!

Cancer causing agent and Sunburns slowing you down and crippling you making others more inclined to leave you for dead.

Ultraviolet C

UVC

Short-wave, germicidal, completely absorbed by the ozone layer and atmosphere

Goodbye, cruel world!

These rays get absorbed by the ozone and atmosphere so as this barrier rots away UVC rays make their way to earth and start destroying any living cells they glance at without even getting close enough to throw things.

Modified from chart found here.

The two types of Sunscreen can protect you from the two antagonists against mortals: UVA and UVB

UVC is just another fun way to die slowly but surely (or cure your seasonal depression and disinfect objects).

The choice between Chemical and Physical is personal and the market even offers hybrid products that combine the two. Chemical Sunscreen absorbs UV radiation and Physical Sunscreen reflects UV radiation.

Think Screen = Chemical and Block=Physical

Chemical sunscreens are more likely to be irritating to the skin and contain ingredients that may be absorbed into the skin. Some of these ingredients, retinol for example, can actually increase potential sun damage over time. Benzophenones have been linked to internal, systemic damage.

While Chemical sunscreen has its drawbacks, it is also the best option for anyone who plans to sweat or get wet as it’s more water resistant than a Physical sunscreen.

As the name implies, Physical sunscreen creates an actual protective block that rejects the UV rays away from the skin.

Physical sunscreen is usually made of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide and will often leave a ghastly white/grey cast on skin with any hint of melanin. This pallor is a pro if the wearer is trying to blend in with the dead on a hot day, but a con if they wish to look like a healthy human.

Application, irritation, look, reapplication, and more will factor into which type someone prefers.

Physical Sunscreen

Chemical Sunscreen

Application

Before exposure

15+ minutes before exposure

Reapplication

Every 2 Hours

Every 2 Hours – more often if sweating or getting wet

Irritation

Less likely to cause irritation

More likely to cause irritation

Concerns

If it looks terrible you’re less likely to wear it or reapply it throughout the day.

· Chemicals that can be absorbed into the body

· May contain ingredients that increase sun damage overtime.

Try not to use spray-on sunscreens because they’re bad for the environment and no type of sunscreen should be inhaled.

But What about Vitamin D?!

Who better to ask than The Vitamin D Council?

Other factors

There are other factors which can affect the amount of vitamin D your body makes from exposure to the sun. These are:

· The amount of skin you expose. The more skin you expose, the more vitamin D you can produce.

· How old you are. As you get older, your skin has a harder time producing vitamin D.

· Whether you’re wearing sunscreen. Sunscreen blocks a lot of vitamin D production.

· The altitude you’re at. The sun is more intense on top of a mountain than at the beach. This means you make more vitamin D the higher up you are (at higher altitudes).

· Whether it is cloudy. Less UVB reaches your skin on a cloudy day and your skin makes less vitamin D.

· Air pollution. Polluted air soaks up UVB or reflects it back into space. This means that if you live somewhere where there is lots of pollution, your skin makes less vitamin D.

· Being behind glass. Glass blocks all UVB, so you can’t make vitamin D if you’re in sunlight, but behind glass.

Your skin type

Melanin is a substance that affects how light or dark your skin color is. The more melanin you have, the darker your skin color. The amount of melanin you have in your skin affects the amount of vitamin D you can produce.

Melanin protects against skin damage from too much UVB exposure, so darker skins with more melanin allow less UVB to enter the skin. With less UVB getting through the skin, less vitamin D is produced each minute. This is why if you’re dark skinned, you need more sun exposure to make vitamin D than if you’re fair skinned.

The table below shows the different skin types:
Skin Type Skin color Skin characteristics
I

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Very fair; red or blond hair; blue eyes; freckles Always burns, never tans
II

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Fair; sandy or red hair; blue, hazel or green eyes Usually burns, tans with difficulty
III

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Fair; with any eye or hair color; very common Sometimes mild burn, gradually tans
IV

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Dark brown hair, green, hazel or brown eyes. Rarely burns, tans with ease
V

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Dark brown and black hair; brown and dark brown eyes. Very rarely burns, tans very easily
VI

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Black hair, dark brown eyes. May never burn, tans very easily

The paler your skin type the more easily your skin can produce vitamin D. So, if you have skin type I to III, you produce vitamin D more quickly than if you have skin type IV to VI. For example, if you have skin type I, it might take around 15 minutes of sun exposure to get the vitamin D you need, while if you have skin type V or VI, it might take up to six times longer (up to 2 hours).

Because of all these factors – your skin type, where you live and the time of day or season – it can be difficult to work out how much time you need to spend exposing your skin to the sun in order to get the vitamin D you need. A good rule of thumb is to get half the sun exposure it takes for your skin to begin to burn to get your vitamin D and expose as much skin as possible.

tavia.

My parents let me watch and read way too much science fiction and fantasy when I was a child. Now that I'm grown, I'm bored and I can't wait for SkyNet to awaken or the super-virus to cull the human population. I'll be safe because I've learned to reason with robots from Data and the Terminator franchise... and I eat gummy vitamins by the fist-full.

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