Use Sunscreen All Year Long

Sunscreen, SPF, Broad Spectrum protection, not a day goes by when the importance of protecting our skin from the sun’s damaging rays doesn’t come up somewhere. It can be really confusing to figure out just what is what these days. And the rules seem to change as time goes by. So, what’s up with sunscreen?

Sunscreen Myths

We hear a lot about the importance of wearing sunscreen. It’s been drilled into our heads that without it we can burn our skin, experience the signs of premature aging and, of course, there’s the risk of getting skin cancer. There isn’t a dermatologist, beauty magazine or skincare TV commercial these days that doesn’t tout the importance of wearing sunscreen or other protective products. SPF products seem to come in all forms, from clothing to cosmetics. But everything we read isn’t necessarily the truth. Let’s break down some common sunscreen myths and get the facts straight once and for all.

Jackie O'Brien Talks all Sun Care and how the sun can damage the skin
1. People with dark skin don’t need to use sunscreen

No matter how dark or light skinned you are, sunscreen is important. Everyone’s skin has the potential to burn, the potential to prematurely age and the potential to develop skin cancer when left unprotected. Don’t believe for a second that if you have dark skin you can skip the sunscreen. Everyone, regardless of their skin color, should wear sunscreen on a regular basis.

2. There’s no need to apply sunscreen if it’s in my makeup

I used to get very excited at the idea of having my sunscreen needs covered by my makeup. Talk about being lulled into a false sense of security. Unfortunately, what I learned was the opposite. Foundations, blush, bronzing powders, all seem to contain SPF these days but it isn’t enough. Makeup with SPF is usually applied unevenly. Think about the quick dusting of blush, or the little dab of foundation we often apply. It’s simply not enough coverage to offer appropriate protection. While it is a nice added benefit for those areas that do get ample coverage, it’s most important to double up on our protection and use a sunscreen as well. Opt for a daily moisturizer with SPF 30. You’ll get added moisture and protection in one easy step.

3. If your sunscreen says it’s waterproof, you don’t need to reapply

The FDA guidelines for sunscreens have become more stringent over time. The newest regulations prohibit companies from using the term “waterproof” on their sunscreen products. The appropriate labelling is “water resistant.” With the term water resistant, companies must now designate whether the product is protective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating. You must reapply at least every 2 hours, and even more frequently if you are swimming or sweating. It’s easy to forget about reapplication when you are having fun at the beach or pool. Keep your sunscreen in a visible place so it doesn’t go unnoticed.  If you just can’t seem to make it happen, put a reminder on your phone or other mobile device to prompt yourself. If you are like me, the sunscreen may be tucked away in my beach bag but my phone is never far from sight.

4. Sunscreens are only meant for certain areas of the body

If you have skin that’s exposed, it needs sunscreen. This includes your feet, ears, back, arms, legs, neck… If it’s an exposed body part, it needs protection. I’m always most concerned about my face, because I want to keep those fine lines and wrinkles at bay. But after close inspection of my body, I had a very rude awakening. My shoulders have many dark spots on them, as does my cleavage area. Even my legs are riddled with sun damage due to my youthful sunscreen neglect in pursuit of the perfect tan. I have become obsessive about the backs of my hands and now keep sunscreen in the cup holder in my car. If it can be seen, it needs sunscreen!

5. Sunscreen for adults is not as protective as those made for children

Sunscreens contain the same active ingredients, whether they are for kids or adults. If you’re looking at two products with the same sun protection factor, whether for kids or adults, the protection is comparable. There are different types of formulations, however, and many sunscreens made for children focus on gentler formulas developed for more sensitive skin. They can be fragrance free, chemical free, paraben free and more. Many products for kids are tear-free to avoid any stinging of the eyes.

6. That bottle from last year is OK to use this year

If you have a leftover bottle of sunscreen from the year before, do yourself a favor and throw it away. First and foremost, if you’re using sunscreen every day, you won’t ever have left over product. A good rule of thumb is to not treat your sunscreen as a seasonal product, but realize its importance year round. Always check the expiration dates on your bottles. The dates can be found on the label itself or embossed into the crimped edge of a tube. Nothing lasts forever and sunscreens will lose their effectiveness over time. Pay attention to expiration dates, and make sure you’re slathering on something that will actually protect your skin.

With all of the information readily available, it’s a no-brainer when it comes to understanding the importance of using sunscreen. Be sure to use it every day, even when it’s cloudy outside. And keep your kids protected as well. If you’re still a non-believer when it comes to sunscreen I have a dare for you.  I want you to stand in front of a mirror and drop your pants. Yes, drop your pants! Take a close look at your derriere. Unless you sunbathe in the nude on a regular basis you will definitely see how much lighter, wrinkle free, and sun-spot free your tush is. 

It’s the perfect before and after for sun exposure right on your own body!


Most frequent questions and answers

There is no such thing as a safe tan.  Most of us think sun damage occurs from baking in the sun and getting a deep dark tan.

Sun Damage begins the minute you walk outside of your house any time of the day whether it is sunny or cloudy winter or summer. The damage associated with wrinkling and skin cancer begins the moment your skin is exposed to sunshine

  • Despite the fact that tanning is a protective response in the skin, it isn’t helpful at all. By some estimates a tan provides a SPF of only 2
  • There just isn’t any way a tan of any kind can be considered healthy.

An SPF number lets you know how long you can stay in the sun without burning while wearing that product.

It is NO indication of protection from UVA radiation which is the UV that causes skin cancer and wrinkles.

To give yourself the best possible protection from UVA radiation your must use a product which includes the following ingredients.

  • Titanium Dioxide
  • Zinc Oxide
  • Avobenzone

It is possible to reverse some sun damage in the skin. But the first step is always to start to protect immediately from further exposure and damage. Prevention is the most important step you can take today. So never miss a day without sun screen. It lowers your exposure to UV and it hydrates and protects your skin. 

Exfoliate to get rid of Dead Skin Cells

If the skin is already showing signs of excessive dryness and tightness and looks dull and lacks lustre its possible it is a build up of dead skin cells. The dryness in the skin caused by sun exposure prevents the skin from shedding itself naturally and the skin cells build up on top of each other and create a heavy dull dry look and feel in the skin. Gentle exfoliation once or twice a week depending on your sin type can be very beneficial. I recommend an enzymatic exfoliation because it’s gentler on your skin but also has the ability to dissolve skin cells on a deeper level.


Keep your Skin Hydrated

Our skin looses moisture daily. How fast we lose it depends on our skin type and how healthy our skin is to begin with. Exposure to the sun and the elements will dehydrate our skin. So proper hydration is crucial to keeping our skin healthy and glowing. A  good quality hydrating serum  is the most effective product for penetrating deep into the layers of the skin. Taking an Omega 3 supplement is also excellent for helping the skin cell to hold on to its own moisture.


Antioxidants: “Our Body’s Fighting Army”

When your skin is exposed to any pollutants from the outside world including UV rays it produces what’s called a “Free Radical”  My description of a free radical is “ A young radical adolescence with no respect for the law” Robs from the healthy and leaves only destruction behind. This is why we need antioxidants. Antioxidants are our national army.  They send in the troops and they fight the bad guys. (Free Radicals)

When your skin is exposed to UV rays there is an increase in Free Radicals and this can speed up aging in the skin. It does this by damaging the production of collagen by hardening the collagen fibres. Foods high in antioxidants Vit C/ Vit E / Vit A and Vit D3 help fight these free radicals. We also need to get these antioxidants from your skin care and supplements so that it can help rebuild the structures of the skin.

Virtually all UVC radiation is filtered out by the atmosphere so that none actually reaches the earth’s surface. However because of pollution in our modern world more rays are getting through so we need to protect ourselves more when we are outdoors. UVB radiation is the ray that burns the skin. UVA radiation is what causes aging of the skin.
Sun Damaged Skin Signs to Look For
Collagen breakdown in the skin leading to slackness of the skin. Premature aging of the skin Loss of elasticity. Skin becomes hard and heavy. The appearance of telangiectasias (tiny blood vessels) Pigmentation,(Brown Spots) Fine Lines / Wrinkles Skin Dryness / Skin Tightness. Patches of dull rough skin Melanoma (Skin Cancer)
Collagen Breakdown in the Skin
Mood Enhancer
Sunlight boosts serotonin in the brain which makes us feel good. Being in the sun makes us feel better and give us more energy.

There are Positive Effects of the Sun too...!!

It enhances your mood: Sunlight boosts serotonin in the brain which makes us feel good. Being in the sun makes us feel better and give us more energy.

Treats seasonal Depression (Commonly referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder). In some people the lack of sunlight in the winter months seems to trigger depression. Symptoms include bad moods, difficulty socialising with friends, overeating, tiredness and sleeping too much.

Improves Sleep: Sunlight exposure impacts on how much melatonin your brain produces.  This is what tells your brain it’s time to sleep. In the darkness of winter months melatonin is produced earlier in the day and we get tired and sleepy earlier in the evening. With more sunlight in the summer you are more likely to feel more awake. However with modern technology, TV screens, computer screens (including cell phones and tablets) out exposure to light has changed. This has resulted in higher levels of insomnia than it was before these devices were invented.

Relieves Stress: Everyone experiences stress for various reasons, such as family, work and health issues. Stress can be relieved in a variety of ways, including exercise, having relaxing hobbies, walking the dog or by getting out in the fresh air for a little sun exposure.


Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a vitamin involved in maintaining healthy bone strength. One way you can get this sun vitamin is exposure to the ultraviolet light from the sun. However, you don’t need much time in the sun to reap the benefits. Only 15 minutes of sun exposure is all that is required to provide all the Vitamin D you need.


Sunlight is fabulous for our health and our mood. Anything that makes us feel good in this world is worth investing in. You can be kind to your skin and still have fun in the sun. Implement your “Sun Smarts” and have fun.

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