We sometimes forget that skin is the body’s largest organ, and as such, it requires special care. Just as we exercise and eat right to improve heart health and our entire digestive system, we need to tend to the skin—it’s the protective layer that covers all the other precious organs and should not be taken for granted.
July is UV Safety Awareness Month and sun protection is a key factor in maintaining skin health. Both men and women are aware of wrinkling and other skin conditions that are part of aging; however, the most dangerous skin afflictions are various forms of cancer. In fact, more skin cancers are diagnosed in the United States each year than all other cancers combined.1
Most skin cancers are caused by too much sun exposure, specifically, exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. As the Earth’s ozone layer gradually becomes thinner—known as ozone depletion—the amount of UV radiation that reaches us increases, leading to a higher risk for skin cancer, eye cataracts, and genetic and immune system damage. 2 Ozone depletion is caused by the release of chemical compounds that contain gaseous chlorine or bromine from industry and other human activities, and to counteract these effects, the Montreal Protocol was signed into effect in 1987. To date, global cooperation has successfully helped to gradually eliminate the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances. 3
Other sources of UV radiation are man-made, for example, tanning beds and sun lamps. As the public becomes more educated about the dangers of UV ray exposure, spray tans have become more popular. Whether the chemicals in spray tans have long-term effects on the skin are being studied.
Sunburn and tanning are the short-term results of too much exposure to UV rays, and are signs of skin damage. Long-term exposure can cause early skin aging, wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity, dark patches, and pre-cancerous skin changes (such as dry, scaly, rough patches). Frequent sunburns in childhood may increase the risk for some types of skin cancer many years or even decades later. 4
Staying out of the sun entirely is unrealistic and deprives the body of its ability to manufacture vitamin D. Fortunately, there are a few easy precautions to take when enjoying the sun and protecting our skin at the same time:
- Wear a hat. Not only will it help shield your skin and scalp from UV rays but it will also protect your hair from drying out.
- Wear shade-protective or SPF rated clothing to help protect your skin from UV rays. Proper clothing may include long-sleeved shirts and pants. (There are even thin sleeves that are popular with golfers to slip over arms to protect against sun exposure.)
- Wear sunglasses for eye protection.
- Stay in the shade when the sun is most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Remember that the sun can still damage your skin on cloudy days or in the winter.
- Choose the right sunscreen. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new regulations for sunscreen labeling recommend that your sunscreen have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 and should protect against both UVA and UVB rays.5
- Use the right amount of sunscreen. According to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, most people apply only 25-50 percent of the recommended amount of sunscreen. When out in the sun, it’s important to apply at least one ounce (a palmful) of sunscreen every two hours. Apply it more often if sweating or swimming, even if the sunscreen is waterproof. 6
- When planning outdoor activities, information about how much sun protection is needed is available at the Environmental Protection Agency’s UV index, which measures the daily intensity of UV rays from the sun on a scale of 1–11. A low UV index requires minimal protection, whereas a high UV index requires maximum protection.7
Our True Elements® collection of organic skin care and hair care products is the perfect solution for long-term safe and healthy skin care.