Some people may be surprised that the biggest organ in a person’s body is actually their skin. Your skin is a very important organ because it is the first sign of protection when it comes to fighting external infections and harm to the body. Therefore, it is important to protect your skin from any type of harm that may damage your skin. From sunscreen to stress, there are various ways to keep your skin in check.
It is not rocket science when it comes to using sun screen to block your skin when you are out and about in the sun. The sun rays are very harmful to your skin because they carry ultraviolet (UV) rays. The UV rays are divided in to UVA and UVB; both are equally harmful. In moderation, UV rays provide an excellent resource for vitamin D. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, substantial exposure to sunlight may increase your risk for skin cancer and other skin deformities including age spots and wrinkles. This is because the rays actually increase degenerative changes in the skin cells which leads to premature aging and wrinkles as explained by the World Health Organization. The picture below illustrates the difference between damaged skin and normal skin cells, and how they are altered after sun exposure.
So how strong of a sunscreen lotion do you need to protect your self from sun damage? And how do you know? The Mayo Clinic suggests a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15. As an example, if a child gets sun burned in 20 minutes, applying sunscreen with an SPF of 15 will take them 15 times longer to get sunburned. Sunscreens with the name broad spectrum sunscreen are the best since they provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
There are also other sources you can use to protect yourself from the sun, included in the table below:
Moisturizers & Lotion
Aside from the sun, having dry skin can create fine lines and wrinkles. It is important to understand how moisturizers work in order to appreciate it and properly apply it. Nowadays, many people still fail to properly put on moisturizer (on the face or on any other part of the body). According to Harvard University, moisturizers help trap water inside the skin using a greasy substance to keep the skin moist. Now, if you were to put lotion on without any water, it almost pointless to use it. This is where it becomes important to know when to apply and how to properly apply your moisturizer.
When and how do you apply moisturizer? Co-Director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, Elizabeth Tanzi states that applying after cleaning the skin is key as mentioned in the Huffington Post when she was interviewed on May 14, 2015. You do not want to apply lotion on unclean skin as it can encourage bacteria and germs to attack the skin and cause break outs according to MenScience Magazine.
To apply moisturizer, clean your face so that it is clear of any germs or bacteria. Make sure your hands are clean as well. Damp your face with a little water as a base. Squeeze about one teaspoon worth of lotion onto your hand, and apply it over the damp skin and keep rubbing the lotion until you have fully dissolved the lotion onto your skin. And there you go! Tanzi also encourages you to apply lotion multiple times throughout the day as needed to keep skin nourished.
What to Avoid in Moisturizers?
It is recommended by the Examiner to use lotion with ingredients that promote moisture such as glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides. Glycerin is a substance that attracts moisture and water from the air. Hyaluronic acid gives the skin firmness by hydrating collagen, which is the main structure of the skin. Ceramides affects the duration of the moisture.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics suggest avoiding lotions and anti-aging creams with polyacrylamide. Polyacrylamide is a substance used to bind ingredients in products. The literature from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics show that polyacrylamide can synthesize into acrylamide, a carcinogen corresponding to certain cancers. It is good to avoid any lotion that has oils. As your skin may already be producing natural oil, the lotion can cause extra greasiness. This can develop into breakouts, which is counterproductive to skin care.
In general, if you develop any rash or irritation, stop use of your lotion or moisturizer immediately. According to the National Eczema Association, when in doubt, use petrolatum, or vaseline, as it only contains low amounts of ingredients.
Your skin is vital to looking and appearing healthy. If you have concerns with your skin, you should contact your primary care doctor. It may be recommended to see an allergist to determine if you have any allergic reactions to the ingredients in lotions. Lastly, your primary care providers will have the resources to set you up with a dermatologist, who is a skin specialist that can better diagnose your condition if you are having symptoms.