As a skin care provider, I see a lot of things. And I get a lot of questions: questions about what products to use, what treatments to have, how to help with fine lines and wrinkles. And honestly, most people just want to know how to take matters into their own hands.
My answer always begins with sunscreen. There are more answers to these questions, however, the most important one is sunscreen. I know, I know. It seems like every skin care therapist, every dermatologist, every spa and beauty department are trying to sell you a sunscreen. And to some people it may feel like there is some sort of sunscreen conspiracy going on. I understand this thought because to this day I have a friend who refuses to wear it and I have known this person for years!
If you are the type of person who really cares about their skin, then sunscreen is a no-brainer. But if you fall into the ambivalent or conspiracy theory category, then this is for you.
Sunscreen is the only thing that can help you avoid the following: looking old, getting lines and wrinkles, redness, dark spots (they start out as really cute freckles then turn into the size of dimes or bigger – not so cute), large pores, sagging skin, pre- cancerous cells and finally, actual cancer. This is what sun damage does. And just because you may be young and good looking now, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. The effects of over-exposure to the sun don’t show up for years. It is the cumulative effect of the sun – the day in and day out – the year in and year out – that doesn’t show up until later. It has been proven that 90% of the aging process is due to over-exposure to sunlight. 90% is a lot.
If you decide that this information is a bunch of hype meant to line the pockets of product manufacturers and decide to not use sunscreen, then there are two outcomes. Best case scenario is you look old and wonder what the heck happened to you. Worst case scenario is you actually get skin cancer. So, if you want to avoid a trip to the dermatologist when you’re between the ages of 55-65 to remove a chunk of your nose, or ear…I suggest you use sunscreen. I know it sounds extreme, but it happens all the time.
If you think about it, clothing protects against most of the sun damage we may receive in our lifetime. But the part that gets sunlight day in and day out is the same thing we obsess over, the same thing we spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on each year; our face.
Sunscreen is such a minimal investment. Honestly, in my opinion – it really is the least you can do. And believe me when I say that if you are currently young (in your 20’s) and use sunscreen daily on the face, neck, ears and décolleté, you will prevent yourself from ever looking old. When all of your friends are turning 35, 40, 45 and complaining about how they woke up one day and looked in the mirror horrified that they are getting old…you will be thanking yourself for being so smart. And if you’re like me, you’re in your 40’s and have begun investing in reversing the signs of aging (misspent youth laying in tanning beds), using sunscreen will protect your investment by ending the cumulative effects of daily sun damage. It won’t reverse the damage, but at least it won’t get any worse.
I started out saying that I have seen a lot. Let me end with this: here is one little tidbit about what I have seen. A woman, who appeared to be 55, walks into my office. She had the most beautiful porcelain skin. I’m talking Nicole Kidman porcelain. She had absolutely no photo damage; not a wrinkle or freckle in sight. She admitted she wore sunscreen daily for all of her adult life; when outside she wore wide-brimmed hats…and sunscreen. Because of her years of diligently protecting her skin, she didn’t need anything I could offer. That woman was 75 years old.