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Battling the Sun

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Protecting your biggest organ because…you should

The all too familiar feeling of the sun warming you up, charging you from the outside in. Some people like to suntan out of habit because they want to get that golden-brown glow. Others are self-proclaimed sun worshippers because they strive to lift their mood.

Whatever the case may be, “Melanoma is one of the most common types of cancer for youth between the ages of 15-29 and adults aged 30-49.” –

One common myth I’ve heard in my friend circle is, ‘I have lots of melanin naturally, I don’t burn and therefore don’t need to wear sunscreen.’ According to science and research, this is in fact, false. “Exposed human skin can tan or burn –both are signs of damage to the underlying cells.”—

It’s about keeping your skin healthy and strong on a cellular level, for many years to come. According to the owner of YMM Cosmetic and Laser Clinic, Dr. Erin Hibbitts. “The sun will also cause the breakdown of collagen and elastin, as well as pigmentation such as brown spots (age spots or sunspots) and melasma. Unlike a sunburn, these aging effects are typically seen decades after sun exposure. This is a major reason why even those with darker skin that do not burn easily should still wear sunscreen – they are the most susceptible to melasma and uneven pigmentation.”

It seems like a no-brainer why one should apply sunscreen, but what are the differences between sunblock and sunscreen? Is there even a difference? “The more accurate description of the two classes are physical sunblock and chemical sunscreens. A physical sunscreen, (zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) reflects the UV rays, whereas a chemical sunscreen absorbs the energy instead of your skin.”—Dr. Hibbitts.

If you have more melanin—aka, a darker skin colour—and you don’t want a pale grayish look that sunblock’s often give, try opting for a chemical sunscreen which has no titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These two ingredients leave behind a white; I am going to haunt you look on most skin tones.

Although you may run the risk of resembling a ghost—or better yet, Mark Zuckerburg on his recent trip to Hawaii. Some people believe physical blocks are safer since they sit on top of the skin rather than being absorbed. At the end of the day experts, such as Dr. Hibbitts suggests wearing sunscreen regularly to protect yourself. “It is recommended to wear at least a SPF 30 daily. Most people go wrong by not using enough of the product to cover the skin area, and not reapplying often enough. You should reapply sunscreen every 2 hours when you are in the sun.”

The best thing to do is to ask your dermatologist about what product is right for you. There are so many choices at beauty boutiques and drug stores, so start looking. Also, make sure you wear it year-round. Remember, consistency is the key to most things working in life.

Who knows, you may end up looking 10 years younger when you’re in your golden years.

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Your McMurray Magazine’s freelance Writer, Touchable Beauty column creator, Brieanna McCutcheon, is a beginner shoe collector, Sephora enthusiast, and virtual online shopping basket filler who can’t stop loving life.