Three little letters can help you fend off disease and aging.
Even though men’s skin is thicker than women’s (for real) and less prone to wrinkles, male skin is just as susceptible to the harsh effects of the sun. If you don’t make an effort to incorporate sunscreen into your men’s skin care routine, you are asking for flaky skin, agonizing burns and a red face in the short term. In the long term, you are asking for age spots, wrinkles, freckles and even skin cancer.
Thankfully, modern science has provided the means to create lotions and crèmes that help us control the amount of sun we are exposed to. That’s not to say that hats, long sleeve shirts and other physical sun-blocks can’t help us avoid over-exposure. But it’s handy to be able to apply a dollop of sunscreen lotion and then move around anywhere in the wonderful outdoors.
It’s important to apply sun blocking products all over your body, but it’s especially important as a part of your men’s facial skin care routine. The face includes some of the most delicate skin on your body, and it’s the first place wrinkles will indicate your age when they begin to appear. In addition, your face pokes right out there where the sun can reach it easily.
A Men’s Skin Care Necessity
Some sunscreens work better than others. How do you tell which ones are the keepers? Look for the SPF factor, a laboratory measure of sunscreen effectiveness. SPF stands for “sun protection factor.” The higher the SPF, the more protection a sunscreen provides against ultraviolet rays, the ones that burn.
A product’s SPF is an inexact multiple of how much ultraviolet radiation would cause a sunburn without sunscreen. Undoubtedly, the SPF number does not refer to the number of hours you can stay in the sun. The intensity of the sun is different at different times of the day, and other factors vary the amount of time a sunscreen is effective.
Factors affecting the amount of radiation a sunscreen will block include:
• Formulation of the product (measured by SPF)
• Time of day
• Weather/cloud cover
• Skin type
• Activities after application
• How much sunscreen product is applied
• How much product is absorbed
It’s important to remember that other types of rays cause skin damage, too, not just the ultraviolet ones that cause burns (UVB). In particular, ultraviolet type A rays (UVA) aren’t blocked by many sunscreen lotions.
The Science of SPF
Here’s how sunscreens work: The molecules in the product absorb high-energy ultraviolet rays and release the energy as lower-energy rays, which keeps rays from reaching the skin. Other ingredients stabilize the molecules, so they break down slower and protect longer.
Products labeled “sunblock,” in addition to blocking rays chemically, actually block rays physically, because they are opaque. They are more effective than sunscreens at blocking both UVA and UVB rays. They also are usually thicker and less easily washed off.
Protection Can Be Fun
We associate sun-exposing activities with diversions—pool parties, grilling out, or relaxing in the rays. Make sunscreen a decadent treat that helps prevent your worry about burning and long-term damage. Look for products that incorporate different colors, fragrances, textures and appealing packaging to add to the fun of your day.