The Modern Men's Guide to UV Protection & Sun Care
With so much of the modern men's time and focus on confidence and aesthetics, it's no wonder sun care and UV protection have become popular topics. Protecting the skin from the sun is not only important for general health but also relevant to the outward appearance of stylish men.
Today, we're diving into everything sun and UV protection.
Understanding the Basics of UV Rays
UV radiation comes from the sun's rays. The sun produces three types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. For the purposes of today's article, however, we're going to focus on UVA and UVB rays since they are the most prominent and common.
Prolonged exposure to UV rays without any protection can damage, discolor, or age your skin prematurely, so you should be careful when you go outside during the hottest months.
What Is UV Radiation?
In small doses, UV radiation has health benefits for the body — namely, the creation of vitamin D. The vitamin D we receive from UV rays is one of the many components responsible for helping the body absorb calcium and phosphorus from the food we eat, which naturally contains it. It also aids in the development and maintenance of strong, healthy bones and teeth.
UVB rays are incredibly powerful, with the ability to penetrate through cloud cover at a strength of 31%. This 100% is what the skin is exposed to on clear days. In addition, these rays can also reflect off surfaces such as bodies of water, metal, and sand, making them stronger and able to inflict more damage.
How UV Rays Affect Your Skin: UVA vs UVB
Unfortunately, both UVA and UVB rays affect the skin. Exposure to either type of ray for a prolonged period of time without adequate protection increases your risk of developing various types of skin cancer, including melanoma.
The strength of UVB rays fluctuates throughout the day according to the time of year, time of day, and location on the Earth. Year-round, though, UVB rays have enough strength to damage the outermost layers of the skin.
UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply, targeting the innermost part of the top layer, where most skin cancers occur. Given enough time, UVA rays also cause premature aging in the form of wrinkles, sagging, and dark spots.
The Importance of Sun Protection for Men
Debunking the Myth: Men's Skin vs. Women's Skin
Some people may think that men's skin is more resistant to sunburn and premature aging than women's. However, both sexes are vulnerable to the harmful effects of UV radiation, which can increase the risk of skin damage.
There is a belief that men's skin is more resilient to the sun due to its rougher texture and increased thickness. However, this is just a myth, and the texture of a men's skin has nothing to do with how well his body can repair itself after exposure to the sun.
Why Men Need to Prioritize UV Care
Good UV protection is crucial for men who want to stay looking young and healthy long term. It should also be a top priority for men who wish to minimize their risks of preventable skin damage like wrinkles and blotches, and keep their youthful glow.
Men are just as susceptible to sun-related skin damage as women. Because of this, modern men should be on top of his game when caring for his skin — even during the less sunny days of fall and winter.
Using a broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen can protect the skin from the damaging effects of UVA and UVB rays now and help prevent them from popping up in the future.
The Long-Term Damaging Effects of UV Rays on the Skin
Typically, the long-term effects of UV rays on the skin start by just being a nuisance. For example, the skin may begin to sag or develop wrinkles earlier than expected. It may also develop dark spots and splotches known as "sun spots." The effects may last for a long time, but they are generally not harmful. Other long-term effects include dryness in your skin, unflattering pigmentation changes, and health risks.
The Safer Way to Tan
Regardless of the risks associated with UV and sun rays, tanning is still among men's number one summer activities worldwide. If you're a fan of the sun-kissed look, no worries! Despite being somewhat risky, there are ways to make tanning a bit safer.
Know Your Skin Type/Tan Shade
If you've ever spent any time outside during the summer, you've probably discovered either a burn or a tan at some point. One of the best things you can do to keep yourself and your skin safe during hot weather is discerning your skin type and tan shade.
Did you sunburn easily without getting a tan? Get a sunburn and then tan? Or did you develop a nice tan with little effort?
This handy observation will make it easier to determine which tanning method is best for you.
Sun Protection and Tan Amplification Products
Sun amplification products are designed for quick and efficient tanning, offering minimal UV protection.
Sun & Tanning Oils
Sun and tanning oils are designed to provide an even tan while keeping the skin moisturized and smooth. Oils are an excellent product for the skin because they quickly blend into the skin and absorb quickly and create a barrier between the skin and the sun. It is recommended to first tan gradually using a traditional sunscreen and then, when you've become accustomed to them, use these products to continue tanning. This will help minimize the damage to your skin.
Bronzing oils are quick-fix solutions for men who want a bronzed look for a day on the lake or at the basketball court without the fuss of hours tanning beforehand. They give the skin an immediate tanned appearance and can help enhance the effectiveness of regular tanning. These products are usually not recommended for men who have sensitive skin.
Protective Sunscreens with Tan Accelerators
These products are similar to basic sun tanning oils, except they offer a deeper tan than those obtained naturally or with other products. In addition, they tend to come with higher SPF ratings than sun, tanning, and bronzing oils.
Sunless tanners are more commonly known as fake tanners, as no sun exposure is required to gain a sun-kissed look. Although they can be expensive, you can use them to avoid UV-induced skin damage.
Essential Sun Care Products for Men
Sunscreen: Your First Line of Defense
"How does sunscreen work?" is a question many men ask when they're first venturing into the skincare world. It's evident that sunscreen prevents sunburns and skin damage — but what does SPF mean?
SPF stands for “Sun Protection Factor” – think of it like a shield level for your skin. Sunscreen absorbs, reflects, or scatters UV radiation from the sun, preventing it from penetrating the skin. The higher the SPF, the more protection you get from those sun rays. For example, SPF 30 means it'll shield you from about 97% of UVB rays. But when it comes to protecting your skin from sun damage, a higher SPF number doesn't necessarily mean better protection against sunburns. SPF ratings relate to UVB rays only, which means that they don't take into account UVA rays. This is why relying solely on SPF rating when choosing sunscreen is not the best idea. If it is available in your country, try looking for the PA (Protection Grade of UVA) Rating. PA+++ in sunscreen indicates that it provides a high level of protection against UVA rays, which are responsible for causing premature aging and skin damage. The more “+” you see in the label, the higher the level of UVA protection. The range can go from a single + to “++++.”
A broad-spectrum SPF rating of 30 is more than enough for most men for day-to-day use.
Protective Clothing and UV Accessories
The best way to protect yourself from UVA and UVB rays is to avoid them. However, avoidance is only sometimes possible, and doing so would mean missing out on several fun summer activities like swimming and sports. You can protect your skin by covering it up.
As a rule of thumb, covering up is the most effective way to avoid skin damage, but UV rays can still penetrate fabric, so UV-protective clothing is the better way to go. If you're concerned about how much skin is on display and vulnerable to the sun's rays, consider covering up with lightweight, long-sleeved UV-protective shirts, sunglasses, and lip balm with SPF.
After-Sun Care Products
After-sun care products are those that you apply after tanning or spending time in the sun. Their purpose is to restore the moisture that the sun sucks out of the skin, as well as to soothe it and cool it down.
After-sun care products are lighter, moisturizing, leave you feeling fresh, and more easily absorbed by the skin than sunscreens and other heavy sun creams. Many good products include aloe vera, and moisturizers such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid. Once your skin has been exposed to the sun, it's a good idea to avoid products that contain added colors and strong fragrances since both can cause skin irritation.
Incorporating UV Protection Daily
Beginner's Guide to Sun Protection
Learning about sun protection can be daunting — but it doesn't have to be. Sun protection comes down to making informed choices when buying sun products and making minor changes/additions to your skincare routine.
It is important to apply sunscreen daily to maintain healthy skin. Ideally, it’s recommended that you apply it after your other skin care products and use it all year, regardless of the season or weather.
Apply sunscreen to the face, hands, and neck before leaving the house each day. Then, rehydrate your skin during your nightly bedtime routine.
Advanced Steps to Protecting Your Skin from The Sun
Once you've got the basic steps for sun protection down, you can consider moving to more advanced steps.
Morning Sun Care Routine
To care for your skin in the morning, follow these quick steps:
- Cleanse your skin with a cleanser designed for your skin type.
- Apply a lightweight moisturizer without added oils.
- Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 30 to your face, hands, and neck.
UV Protection Throughout the Day
If you will be spending a lot of time under the sun during the day, keeping up with your sun protection is crucial. It is not enough to just apply sunscreen in the morning and forget about it for the rest of the day.
For proper sun protection, remember to reapply sunscreen every two hours if you plan on swimming or sweating. Also, wear UV protective accessories.
Evening Sun Care Routine
Once you return home from a long day under the sun, don't forget to pamper your skin! Wash it thoroughly with a gentle cleanser and water, moisturize, and apply your favorite after-sun care products.
Taking care of your skin in the sun may seem difficult and time-consuming, but it doesn't have to be. It's important to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, and with a few simple steps, you can easily incorporate sun care into your daily routine. For men, this means using the right sunscreen, keeping the skin clean and moisturized, and taking a few moments out of your busy schedule each day to keep your skin looking cool and healthy forever.