As we welcome warmer weather, it is the best time to remind you of the importance of sunscreen! Whether you are in the house all day or outside basking in the sunlight, SPF is your skins’ best friend. The sun is at its strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. Even elements such as water, concrete, sand and snow still reflect sun rays and increase the risk of sunburn.
In the most recent years, there has been more and more emphasis on the importance of wearing sunscreen. Using sunscreen daily is a necessary part of a healthy skincare routine, regardless of skin colour and type.
Avoiding unnecessary sun exposure also promotes better-protected skin that will age well.
SPF is an acronym standing for Sun Protection Factor, a measure of how effective the sunscreen is against UVB rays. Despite UVA rays being more well known, they aren’t in the rating. Skin experts recommend using sunscreen that has a rating of at least SPF 30 and higher. Sunscreens above SPF 50 will only provide a smaller increase in UV protection.
Regardless of using a high or low SPF, they both last the same amount of time on the skin. Dermatologists recommend reapplying sunscreen every 2 hours for the highest level of protection. Reapplication is vital because sunscreen is easily washed off, even through sweating throughout the day. However, if the sunscreen is not applied correctly, the SPF will be less effective.
Wearing sunscreen comes with many benefits, which explains the importance of sunscreen. The main one is it protects you from the harmful rays the sun produces. The sun produces two types of rays that can be harmful to the skin, UVA and UVB. Both have different adverse effects on the skin as well. UVA rays can prematurely age the skin, whilst UVB rays are responsible for sunburn. Sunburn indicates UVB damage to the skin. The immune system is responding to the damage, producing sunburn as a warning. The warning is that DNA damage is happening inside the skin cells due to UV radiation.
When the skin is overexposed to both UVA and UVB rays, it can cause skin cancer. Another benefit of using sunscreen is that it is the first line of defence against skin cancer and premature ageing. Skin cancer experts have confirmed using sunscreen can reduce the risk of skin cancer by 40% approximately. UV rays can also damage your complexion and cause hyperpigmentation, discolouration and change the skins’ texture. However, reapplication is essential to reap these benefits. The more often the skin burns, the higher the risk of skin cancer (melanoma) increases.
Sunburn can present itself through the peeling/blistering of the skin after sun exposure or if the skin has permanently turned pink or red. For people with more melanated skin, it may also present in the skin with symptoms such as irritation, itching or tenderness. When these signs appear, it is necessary to cover up and limit sun exposure. Doing so will stop any more damage to the skin. Sun lotion will only help the skin to feel better after a sunburn, but it cannot reverse the damage that has already occurred.
So, in summary, the benefits of applying sunscreen are:
A decision on what sunscreen to use is quite important because all sunscreens are suitable for different purposes. There are two types of sunscreen: physical and chemical. Physical sunscreen means that the sunscreen acts as a physical barrier against the sun. The sunscreen contains fine minerals (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) that stay on the skins’ epidermis. They mainly reflect the sun and partly absorb UV radiation.
Chemical sunscreens protect by absorbing UV radiation to prevent skin damage and premature ageing. However, different chemicals have different purposes. Chemical sunscreens also have higher concentrations of chemicals to break down and absorb the harmful rays from the sun.
Significant factors to consider when choosing a sunscreen is down to factors such as:
For example, a swimmer is spending a lot of their time in the water outside. They should use sunscreen that is water-resistant so that they can be protected against the sun while swimming. Alongside sunscreen, it is vital to have complementary sun protection such as wearing sunglasses (which help protect the eyes from dangerous UV rays), limiting prolonged exposure in the sun and wearing protective clothes (which shield skin away from the sun).
In regards to the skin type factor, different formulas are more suited to particular skin types. Someone that has dry skin should use sunscreen that provides additional moisture. Lean towards sunscreen creams that have ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin and ceramides. Someone who has oily skin should look for a water-based or gel formulated sunscreen. Natural ingredients, such as niacinamide, tea tree oil or green tea, will also benefit those with oily skin. These ingredients help control oil production in the skin and make sure the skin is not overproducing it.
Alternatively, people with normal skin do not have to worry too much about ingredients. Although, most consumers prefer organic sunscreen because of its texture and the lack of white residue left on the skin. For people with sensitive skin, there are numerous ingredients that they must avoid. Alcohol, fragrances, mineral oils, parabens and many other types of acids can be harsh irritants to the skin. Opting for a mineral sunscreen that contains minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are less likely to irritate the skin. There are ingredients that sunscreen for sensitive skin that help soothe the skin and reduce irritation like panthenol and allantoin.
The best places to buy sunscreen are from trusted pharmacies such as Boots & Superdrug. Supermarkets like Tesco & Sainsbury’s and well-trusted retailers. Buying from trusted retailers prevents buying replicated or diluted products that may damage the skin.
In short, when looking for sunscreen, consider:
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