We all know it’s important to take care of our skin, particularly in the summer when sun damage is a risk. And many of us know to look for high SPF lotions. But what is SPF, and why is it a skincare essential?
SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is a numbering system, which shows a sunscreen’s ability to protect against UVB. While SPF 15 is a good choice for most people, some may need more; in that case, dermatologist recommends a non-chemical sunscreen of SPF 25 for face that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
If you have sensitive skin, taking medication that could increase your sensitivity to the sun, or plan to have prolonged exposure to the sun, even the highest SPF won’t be enough to fully protect your skin from the visible signs of sun damage. In situations like these, your best defense is to wear a hat and protective clothing. Here’s the other reasons why we need an all-around SPF protection.:
The scientific bits
Your skin is made up of layers; the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. The epidermis is the outer layer that is exposed to outside aggressors. External factors like UVA rays can penetrate the epidermis and damage the dermis. This is usually when premature ageing happens. Damage to the dermis impacts collagen which is essential for plump, youthful skin.
Exposure to the sun
SPF has long been associated with the summer. When in fact the sun can still penetrate through clouds on those cold, grey days that we see far too often in the UK. In fact, 80% of the sun’s rays can penetrate through clouds. Your skin is therefore constantly exposed to damaging sun rays, even when you are sat in an office! Offices often have windows and, another shocking fact, UV rays (mainly UVA) can still damage your skin if you are sat directly in front of a window. The window is unfortunately not an iron proof forcefield protecting you from those powerful UVA rays.
The risks of skin damage
When UV rays have damaged your skin, it alters the DNA in your skin cells. UVA rays that penetrate deeper into your skin can cause damage that’s difficult to reverse. Alongside discolouration and ageing wrinkles, damage to the cells can also contribute to the development of skin cancers. Both UVA and UVB rays can increase the risk of serious skin disease.
How to protect your skin from sun damage
- Know your skin. Everyone’s skin reacts differently to the sun and it’s important to learn more about your own skin. This will help you understand how to best protect it every day and spot anything unusual. Choose an SPF level that works for your skin type. If you have hypersensitive skin or rosacea, protecting your skin is vital.
- Choose the right products. Apply a moisturiser that’s been designed for day wear and select one providing both UVA and UVB protection. If you have concerns over ageing, these products are also ideal because they protect against other skin-damaging environmental aggressors (pollution, free radicals etc). Just remember, you do not need SPF protection when tucked up in bed at night. Save your skin protecting, SPF enriched lotions and potions for the day.
- Have a favourite moisturiser that doesn’t contain SPF? Not all day creams contain SPF. Sometimes switching from a tried and tested product that works for your skin is not always an option. Luckily, you don’t necessarily need to make a change! There are plenty of natural beauty primers and foundations available that contain SPF. Do a bit of research and always check the ingredients.
- Make it part of your routine. Everyone has a daily routine. Make sure your SPF product is part of it. That way whether you are outdoors, indoors, sat in the sun or sheltered from the rain, your skin is still protected!
- Aim to protect all your skin. It’s a no-brainer to protect your skin with SPF lotion when wearing summery, or skimpier clothing that exposes more of your skin to the sun. Also, consider applying SPF to your hands and neck daily. This is once again important if you have concerns over ageing.