Sun, skin and SPF!


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More than 1 million people worldwide are diagnosed with skin cancer every year. Therefore the importance of adequate skin protection needs to be shared. Excessive UV exposure can lead to melanoma. It is largely a preventable cancer and can be easily avoided by using sunscreen and being safe. If something looks strange or unusual just get it checked. a second opinion is always helpful. Not only does the sun cause cancer but it is the largest ageing factor for our skin, people who use SPF 15 everyday show 24% less ageing than people who don't!  Keeping safe in the sun is top priority for me as I have a young family and know how easy it is for their skin to burn. Recently I was able to take part in a Dermalogica skincare masterclass with skin charity Skcin, I learnt a lot about sun safety and I wanted to share this with you. First let's dispel some myths.

'SPF only needs to be worn in the summer' -There are two types of rays the sun radiates. Firstly UVB rays, they cause damage to the outmost layers of the skin. They effect the epidermis and can be quite intense but superficial which leads to them burning the skin. They tend to be stronger when the weather is hotter. On the other hand we have UVA rays which are the same strength and are present all year round. The UVA rays actually penetrate the skin deeper and reach the dermis. This is what makes them responsible for ageing as they target the collagen in our skin which also resides in the dermis. Another type of damaging light is blue light, this goes even deeper than UVA rays however the conversation around this is relatively new. What this highlights to me is how sunscreen is clearly an everyday product. It is not something that should just be used in summer months. 

'I don't need SPF as my skin doesn't burn.' - Did you know the more pigment you naturally make and have in your skin the more UV light is screened out? It actually naturally blocks some of the UV out, but even the darkest skin would only protect up to SPF 13, so any lighter you can imagine how easily it would burn. Therefore every skin colour needs sunscreen! 

'It's so cold out, I don't need SPF.' - The strength of the sun isn't dependent on the temperature outside. A great resource is the UV index, it tells us the levels of UVB. Things that can make UVB worse are the season, so when it is warmer, but also reflection from water or snow, clear skies and altitude. So if you've ever been on a skiing holiday or climbed a mountain the levels of UVB are high because you are exposed to so many more factors. So it really doesn't depend on the temperature.

With that being said I hope you understand how important screening your skin from the sun is. Now let's look at sunscreen. The SPF factor protects from UVB rays only. You need a broad spectrum SPF to protect from UVA rays, which causes ageing and skin cancers. They have a star rating which indicates the level of UVA ray absorbed by the sunscreen. So you need to take the SPF factor and star rating both into account when looking at the best sunscreen for you. 

There are two types of sunscreen physical or chemical. Physical sunscreens reflects the suns rays away and block the UVA/UVB from even reaching the skin. Because of this, physical sunscreens tend to be a little more chalky in texture and some leave a white caste as they are acting as a barrier. A great physical sunscreen, is Dermalogica Invisible Physical Defence because it has all the benefits of a physical sunscreen but doesn't leave the white caste, it also sets matte which is great for us oily skin gals. 

Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, work by absorbing and converting the rays into heat. They are great for most skin types and are quite light in texture. They are pretty much invisible on the skin especially the Dermalogica Protection 50 Sport. A great product that is actually water resistant for 80 minutes, making it perfect for beach or pool days. 

The amount of sunscreen we wear is also important. It is recommended your wear 5 ml of product on your face and 30ml of product on your body, at least 30 minutes before leaving the house, as it has time to dry down onto the skin. It should be reapplied every 2 hours if you are spending time outside. However, for everyday use where you may be indoors, one application or layering products is adequate enough. Using the UV index can also help to make the decision on whether you will need to reapply. Suncreen has an expiry date too, so stick to them as they they will not provide adequate protection if out of date. A great way of planning your sunscreen usage is by going to This gives you information on your usage based on your location and daily routine and will also tell you how long you can be outside for without sunscreen before your skin burns.

A really helpful way to remember how to be safe is by using the 5 S's of skin safety (source- Skcin charity):

Slip on a T-shirt or extra protective clothing.

Slap on the sunscreen

Slap on a broad brimmed hat

Slide on good quality sunglasses

Shade from the sun wherever possible

I hope you have found this post helpful and if anything the one thing I want you to take away is to wear your sunscreen!

Amina xx

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