The importance of using SPF in your Daily Routine

Protecting your Skin with SPF

Many of us only think to wear some sun cream when we are jet setting off on holiday. As soon as we get back it goes to the back of the bathroom cabinet until we are off on holiday again. The problem is, to protect the skin properly from sun damage we should be wearing SPF all year round.

WHY SHOULD I WEAR SPF?

There are two types of ultraviolet radiation from the sun which we know as UVA and UVB. UVA rays are present all year round even when it looks cloudy outside. They are known as the silent ray as you don’t realise they are present, they do not cause any heat or redness to the skin. UVA rays are often referred to as the “ageing ray” as they can penetrate more deeply into the skin causing premature ageing and wrinkles. UVB is the ray which gives us a sun tan, however with prolonged exposure and no protection will cause redness and burning.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SUNSCREEN AND A SUNBLOCK?

You have probably looked at the shelves filled with sun products and asked yourself, what is the difference? One says it’s a ‘block’ and another says it’s a ‘screen’. There are also different numbers on the front anything from an SPF 4 to an SPF 50. It can be very confusing.

Let’s start off by explaining the differences. A sunblock is like having a shield on your skin so sun rays will bounce off or reflect off your skin. The textures of these tends to be thicker as they sit on the surface to stop the rays coming through. Whereas a sunscreen absorbs the majority of the sunrays before it goes into your skin and these textures are lighter and often preferred.

WHAT DOES SPF MEAN?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor which is the capability of the sun product on how much your skin is protected from the sun. SPF products contain different amounts of chemical and mineral filters in them which protect the skin. The more of these filters that are in a product the higher the SPF number will be.

Let’s give you an example of how to calculate what SPF to use:

If you burn very easily, e.g. within 10 minutes of sun exposure your skin will go red - this is your burn time. If you apply an SPF 50, it will protect your skin from burning 50 times longer or 500 minutes.

Most SPF products need to be re-applied every 2-3 hours to keep full protection. Some activities cause you to need to apply SPF more frequently as it will have been reduced for example from sweating or swimming.

We recommend following the below for guidance:

SKIN CHARACTERISTIC TANNING
Very fair, always burns Non-existent
Fair skin, often burns can achieve some colour Light
Meduim to dark skin. Occasional sunburn Meduim

It is important to reject the myth that SPF is just for summer so you can protect your skin all year round. To find the right SPF for you you need to understand your skin’s reaction to the sun in order to find the level of protection you need. Then you can start looking for your preferred texture of sun cream, eg, a cream or a spray etc.