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HD Connection: why do I need sunscreen if I'm not going outside?

We've all heard the dangers of not wearing sunscreen when spending time out in the sun, but did you know it's also crucial to wear sunscreen when you are inside? The sun is a major factor in skin-aging, but so are everyday devices you might not think have an impact on skin health. Let's break it down!

When choosing a sunscreen, you want one that protects against UVA & UVB rays, IR-A rays, and HEV light. UVA and UVB rays are given off by the sun (and tanning beds). UVB rays are the main cause of sunburns. UVA rays have a longer wavelength and are typically associated with the breakdown of skin structures such as elastin and collagen, resulting in the appearance of aging skin. These rays are directly related to skin cancers, including melanomas, basal cell carcinomas, and squamous cell carcinomas. Remember that UVA and UVB rays can penetrate the skin through clouds so it is important to apply sunscreen even if it is overcast. Recent studies have shown that UVA and UVB rays can penetrate the skin through glass so keep this in mind when driving. Also, rays will penetrate right through makeup (even most SPF-containing makeups) so you should be applying a sunscreen prior to makeup applications.

IR-A rays (infrared rays) are emitted by the sun as well as certain electrical household devices such as hairdryers, space heaters, computers, remote controls...the list goes on and on. IR-A rays promote free-radicals which cause inflammation and skin degradation. When collagen and elastin (two components of the skin that keep the skin taught and youthful) break down, the result comes in the form of lines, wrinkles, sagging skin, and volume loss.

Hyperpigmentation, or skin discoloration, can also result from IR-A ray exposure. Hyperpigmentation can add to the look of aging and be difficult to treat. IRA-ray resistant sunscreens defend against the rays themselves but also include antioxidants that combat free radical damage. It is also important to start incorporating a topical antioxidant and/or Vitamin C treatment into your skincare routine at some point to further counteract the effects of IR-A exposure.

Finally, HEV light (also known as blue light) can come from the sun but is also given off by devices with screens (computers, TVs, smartphones, tablets) and certain overhead lighting. HEV light has the same effect as IR-A rays: premature aging of the skin. HEV light is so prevalent in today's society, there is really no way to avoid it. This is why it is so critical to wear sunscreen even when working from home, grocery shopping, or just laying on the couch scrolling through social media.

The most important reason to wear sunscreen is to protect yourself from the risk for skin cancer. However, UVA/UVA, IRA, and HEV light are huge causes of aging. You might as well find a reputable brand of sunscreen that will protect against all of the above and make it a habit to apply daily.

For more information on sunscreens, anti-aging skin care products, or other modalities to combat signs of aging, visit us for an appointment!

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