Like many outdoor activities, riding our motorcycle brings us face to face with the sun. It’s both a blessing and a curse as while those blissful hours of pleasure riding go by, we’re also taking a beating from the sun. Even when hidden behind a full face motorcycle helmet, overexposure to the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet (UV) light can cause premature aging and lead to skin cancer and pre-cancers like actinic keratoses (AKs). Since sun damage accumulates over time, it’s never too late to start a sun protection regimen. We’ve said it before protecting against the damaging rays of the sun is an important part of your motorcycle gear.
Based on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) 2019 Guide to Sunscreen – the EWG found issues with 80% of the sun protection products it studied. The issues such as having ingredients such as “oxybenzone” which can disrupt the hormone system and “Retinyl palmitate” which may trigger damage, possibly cancer.
SPF protection tops out at 30 to 50, and just because you’re wearing a higher SPF protection you may think you can ride in the sun for longer and skip necessary reapplication. Not the case. In fact, the FDA is considering a ban of SPF above 50+. The EWG also recommend skipping spray sunscreen, which can be inhaled and don’t cover skin completely.
And just because you’re not getting burnt doesn’t mean you’re not damaging your skin: High SPF is able to suppress a sunburn while allowing in dangerous UV rays.
Your checklist for products to banish from your saddle bag:
- Spray sunscreens can be inhaled, and they don’t cover skin completely.
- SPF values above 50+ try to trick you into believing they’ll prevent sun damage. Don’t trust them. SPF protection tops out at 30 to 50.
- Products using “oxybenzone” which can disrupt the hormone system.
- Products using “retinyl palmitate” which may trigger damage, possibly cancer.
So what should you be wearing? The EWG developed a rating system and extensively selected best beach and sport sunscreens, with brands like La Roche-Posay, Nine Naturals, and Yes to Cucumbers on the “good” list. This also includes a list of moisturizers with SPF, and even a list of best lip products. Their useful online tools leave us no excuse for not adding a proper sunscreen to our daily pre-ride skin care routine.
Remember Practice Smart Sun. Here’s your quick check list:
- Make sun safety a daily habit
- Get UV-protective sunglasses
- Wear a shirt when off bike
- Skin Cancer is on the Rise
TIPS TO Help Stop or Reverse Sun Damage to the Skin
- Use a good sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Sunscreen is one of the keys to radiant, youthful-looking skin. Daily use may even lower your long-term risk of skin cancer. By reducing your daily sun exposure, sunscreen allows your skin time to heal and your immune system the chance to repair some existing damage.
- The build up of stratum corneum (the dead, outermost skin cell layer) can make skin appear blotchy and uneven. Also, remnants of self-tanning products can collect in typically dry areas (such as the elbows), causing the skin to lose its lustre and appear “dirty.” Loofahs, scrubs, alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)* cleansers, and home microdermabrasion kits (in which tiny crystals are sprayed on the skin) can remove dead skin cells, leaving skin looking smoother.
- Bleach the brown spots. Skin lightener does not actually make the skin white; it simply helps to lighten accumulations of unwanted colour. Dr. Sarnoff recommends using an over-the-counter product that contains kojic acid in combination with hydroquinone, Retin-A*, and a mild steroid cream, which is useful for stubborn brown spots and blotchy brown discoloration.
- Summer exposure to sun, chlorine, and salt water can dry out your skin – even the heels of your feet can be affected. Try a hand and body cream, and, for the heels, a moisturizing foot cream. A moisturizer with AHA or facial serum with hyaluronic acid can plump up dry skin around the eyes, making skin instantly appear less wrinkled. Continued use may help stimulate the production of new collagen, a protein that helps give skin its texture and appearance.
The right product is the first step, but we also need to be vigilant about application: Remember to apply enough lotion (a golf ball-sized dollop, according to the New York Times) and reapply every two hours as instructed.