Sunscreen is the single most important step in your skincare routine! Not only can sunscreen decrease your chances of developing skin cancer, it is also the most important ingredient in an anti-ageing skincare routine. It is believed that as much as 80% of facial ageing can be ascribed to sun exposure.
Ultra violet A rays are responsible for premature ageing, wrinkles, brown spots and pigmentation. An easy way to remember is: UVA(ageing)
UVA can penetrate through glass and their presence is constant throughout the day, in spite of cloud cover. This is why you need to wear sunscreen every single day. no excuses!
These rays also penetrate deeper into the skin, thus causing wrinkles and ageing.
Ultra violet B rays cause sunburn and are responsible for most skin cancers. An easy way to remember is: UVB (burn/bad)
These rays are present on a typically “sunny day” and not present all year round. UVB is blocked by glass and the amount of UVB that reaches the earth’s surface varies by the time of day, with maximal rays reaching the earth from 10 AM to 4 PM.
Relates to UVB (burn) protection.
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) gives us an indication of how long a person can be exposed to sun before getting burnt i.e theoretically a person that applies an SPF 10 sunscreen on uncovered skin could stay in the sun 10 times longer without incurring a visible sunburn as compared to not wearing any sunscreen. We don’t recommend that you take this theoretical guide as gospel. In reality, most people probably achieve a mean sun protection factor (SPF) of between 20% and 50% of that expected from the product label because they do not apply enough product. Remember, 30ml (a shot glass) of sunscreen is required for the whole body.
You need to wear a minimum of SPF 30. This blocks 97% of UVB rays while SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays.
Relates to UVA (ageing) protection.
It is a bit confusing but there are many different ways to describe the level of UVA protection. The most common are: PA, star rating or PPD. Look for a product labelled with one of the following:
at least a 4 star rating
Tells us the product offers both UVB & UVA protection
A broad spectrum sunscreen offers protection against a “broad spectrum of light”. This means it affords protection against both UVA and UVB rays. You still need to check what the exact UVA & UVB protection by referring to the SPF and PA/Star rating/PPD
Types of Sunscreen:
The types of sunscreen available can be divided into physical or chemical sunscreens. There is no particular type of sunscreen that is always considered better. What’s best for you primarily depends on your skin type.
Physical sunscreens are literally “barrier sunscreens’ as they scatter or reflect UV radiation from the surface of the skin. They remain on the skin surface and not absorbed and therefore rarely associated with allergic reactions. Patients with sensitive or rosacea prone skin often tolerate physical sunscreens better. These sunscreens block the widest range of light including UV, visible and infrared. They are recommended for periods of intense sun exposure so as high altitude or water sports. Look for ingredients such as titanium oxide or zinc oxide in the list of ingredients to determine if the sunscreen is physical.
Downside: Some of these sunscreens can look a little chalky.
Chemical sunscreens absorb UV radiation and convert it into heat or light energy. Therefore, they have the tendency to cause reactions in acne, rosacea or sensitive skin types. They often have a more pleasing consistency from a cosmetic point of view but they do have to be applied more often throughout the day. Thy also take up to 30 minutes to become active so make sure you apply well ion advance of sun exposure. They contain ingredients such as Oxybenzone, Avobensone, Octisalate.
Sunscreen Top Tips:
- There is no such thing as “waterproof” sunscreen”. However if a sunscreen is described as “water-resistant”, this means the SPF is still effective after 40 minutes of water immersion.
- Sunscreen should be worn every single day of the year, no excuses.
- The SPF found in make up is not adequate. A very thick layer of make up layer would have to be applied in order to benefit from the stated SPF. Also, make up will usually offer no protection against UVA rays.
- While physical sunscreens are effective immediately post application, it takes chemical sunscreens 20-30 minutes to be affective post application.
- Sensitive, acne or rosacea prone skin types will benefit from physical only sun filters.
- Enhance your protection by applying a potent antioxidant serum before sunscreen. Anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C are known to boost the efficacy of sunscreen and also protect your skin against numerous environmental triggers. Your double daily defence!