Make sure you protect your skin all year long
- 01 April 2012
- by Alex Zagalsky
There are so many sunscreens available these days, from beach favourites like
Piz Buin to new releases from cosmetic brands such as
Clarins for everyday use. As well as the confusing amount of choice, there is also a lot of hysteria surrounding sun exposure, contradicted by messages that Vitamin D from the sun is essential to our wellbeing. What to make of it all? And as Londoners, what factor SPF do we realistically need on a day to day basis? Here are some guidelines to help:
1. According to top London dermatologist, Dr. Nick Lowe, a leading expert on sunscreen and sun protection, you must first arm yourself with knowledge, namely about the difference between UVA and UVB. According to him: 'A simple way to remember the difference between them is that UVA are the ageing rays and UVB are the rays that cause burning of the skin.' Both these types of UV rays can lead to skin cancers.
2. The Sun Protection Factor (or SPF) measures how effectively the sunscreen formula limits skin exposure to UVB rays that burn the skin. The higher the SPF the more protection the sunscreen will provide against UVB rays. SPF does not measure against UVA…
3. DO believe the hype: most sun damage occurs from day-to-day sun exposure and not at the beach, and it is essential that you choose a moisturiser/sunscreen that offers protection against both types of UV rays. Check the packaging carefully for a circled UVA sign!
4. Dr Lowe says that Londoners can use SPF 15 (+ UVA) for everyday use in the city, unless you are in strong sunlight consistently for more than 30 minutes, in which case you need a stronger factor. If you have very fair skin, choose SPF 30 or more (+ UVA).
5. Sunlight is essential for the skin to synthesis vitamin D which is important for bones and growth, so high factors are not necessary on a cloudy, patchy day, but do go by the golden rule below. Sun protected skin will not make enough Vitamin D so take a Vitamin D3 supplement in the summer months especially.
6. Children and teenagers should always have high factor UVA and UVB protection in the sun, and remember hats and sunglasses, always.
7. Reapply your sunscreen/moisturiser every two hours! Marielle Alix, Head of Therapy & Training for Ren skincare, also advocates a SPF 15 moisturiser for everyday use in the city, but her tip is to wear mineral make-up so that you can easily touch up with colour and coverage, without constantly clogging and layering the skin with foundation and blush etc…
8. All skin colour needs sun protection. Darker skins will age with brown spots and wrinkles. Just use SPF 15 (with UVA protection) everyday, all year round so you are shielded against UVAs which can penetrate the skin even on cloudy or winter days and through glass, and can lead to skin ageing and skin cancers.
9. On holiday and at the beach, make sure you reapply a high factor every 30 minutes and stay out of very strong sun altogether.
10. The golden rule is that if you want to keep your skin looking young and healthy and free of skin cancer, use a sunscreen everyday regardless of whether the sun is shining or not.
How to apply sunscreen:
1. Apply sunscreen approximately 10 minutes before being in the sun for best results so that it can be absorbed by the skin and will be less likely to wash off when you perspire.
2. Shake your sunscreen well before use to mix particles that might be clumped up in the container. Be sure to apply enough sunscreen. As a guide, if you are of average size, use about an ounce or a handful to cover your entire body. Apply the sunscreen thickly and thoroughly to all parts of your skin exposed to the sun, including the ears, back, shoulders, and the back of the knees and legs.
3. Don't use two year old protective products as their sun protection potential will degrade over time.
4. Do not leave your products in very hot places e.g. back shelves of cars or sunny windows ledges as they may deteriorate.
5. If you are on any kind of medication, check with your doctor about sun exposure.
Some of our favourite products for day to day care:
From top, clockwise: Dr Nick Lowe, Super Charged SPF 15 Day Cream, (+ UVA), £17; Clarins UV Plus HP Multi-Protection Day Screen, SPF 40, £30. Ren Photoactive Sun Veil SPF 15 +UVA), Available from June. Dr Nick Lowe, The Secret is Out, Neck and Decollete Cream with 15 SPF (+UVA), £29.99