Yahoo! Lifestyle – SPF explained and how to protect your skin from sun damage
Sun is one of the biggest causes of skin damage, premature ageing, wrinkles and discolouration – so even with Britain’s changeable weather, it’s essential we protect ourselves from the sun this summer.
As we head into the summer months, it’s time to ramp up sun protection element of your skincare as the sun’s rays get stronger, but with so many options available, we asked some top skin experts what really works and how to apply SPF products for the best results.
“We strongly believe that SPF 30 is the minimum you should be using all year round,” says Peter Roberts, MD of SkinMed.
He tells us that the weather shouldn’t make any difference to our sun protection. Sun’s rays can cause damage through rain, clouds and even on the greyest days when you feel a bit silly slapping on the sunscreen.
He adds: “Rays can actually be stronger in the spring – because the sun’s coming in from a different angle.”
But for those of us who’ve neglected the holy trinity of S, P and F so far this year, here’s what you need to know about sun protection this summer.
Sun block or SPF moisturiser?
“If you aren’t wearing an SPF 30 already, increase it up to this level,” advises Holly Faulkner, True Skin Aesthetician and Skincare Expert.
“Moisturisers with SPF can be effective but make sure it’s a high factor as some formulations can be slightly ‘watered down’ and not enough would be applied to get the factor coverage.”
Skin guru Lee Garrett, from FreedomHealthSkin, Harley Street, agrees:
“I wouldn’t recommend a moisturiser at all. SPF products nowadays are very moisturising so there is no need to have both. I feel that moisturisers are a waste of money. You’re better off having a serum for nighttime and an SPF for daytime – this can also double up as a base for your makeup.”
But if your heart has skipped a beat at the prospect of ditching your moisturiser, Peter reassures us that you can still use one.
He recommends applying both a SPF moisturiser and a sunscreen.
“The recommendation is that you need two layers of sun protection to really get the benefit,” he tells us.
“So apply your SPF moisturiser and then 20 minutes later you can put on sunscreen to get maximum protection. The first layer gets into your cells and the second forms more of a physical barrier.”
What to look for when buying
When it comes to labelling, Lee says: “Make sure that they are protecting you from the harmful ultra violet radiation UVA and UVB. An easy way of remembering is that UVA is for ageing and UVB is for burning.
“Aim for SPF 30 to 50 and no lower. You will still tan but you will protect your skin.”
Donna Glazer, skin educator and facialist, adds, “Although sun creams can protect the skin from absorbing UV rays, they cannot stop every single ray.
“A UVB SPF acts as the ‘cover’ to stop burning, while the UVA SPF acts as the temperature gauge preventing skin from ‘overcooking’ and drying out.
“You as the consumer therefore need to know how long it takes for your skin to burn, and to check your protection carries both UVB and A to prevent it burning and damaging the deeper layer of the skin.”
Holly says: “SPF should always be the last skincare product you use in your morning routine. “It’s your shield against UV rays and more. Many formulations provide antioxidants which reduce free radical damage from the environment as well as blocking UV rays.
“But you can put makeup on top. Many formulations are a good base for makeup.”
Should you ditch any products from your routine in the summer?
“During the summer months you are best avoiding any products containing alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs) or retinols as these will all make your skin photo sensitive and more likely to burn,” explains Lee.
“Vitamin C on the over hand is a very good product to have in your skin care regime as this vitamin will help protect your skin cells from the harmful UVA and UVB sun rays. But wear it under your sunscreen for protection.”
Peter adds, “One tip everyone should follow is not to exfoliate in the morning. Just below the surface in your skin you have cells called langerhan cells, which give your skin natural immune protection.
“If you exfoliate you expose these cells to UV damage and can reduce their effectiveness so always do so at night to give your skin time to restore its acid mantle which helps protect you and this will regenerate while you sleep.”
“Good vitamin C serums are Synchrovit C by Skin Med, Pro C from Obagi and Flavo C from Ferndale or Clarins Daily Energizer Cream,” Lee recommends.
How much and how often?
For your face, Holly recommends using a pea sized amount, but on the body a 10p amount per area (arm, leg, chest etc.) is necessary.”
“Apply it morning, midday, afternoon and late afternoon if you are out side all day or on holiday. But in the UK summer, twice a day is usually enough.”
Peter also recommends paying attention to your own skin tone. “You know when you’re burning. If you feel yourself getting hot move to the shade and reapply.”
What can you do if sun protection makes you break out?
“Sensitive and acne skin types particularly should use a mineral-based SPF with the ingredient zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which both act as a sunblock to protect the skin,” says Holly.
“As they are non-chemical they shouldn’t cause interference in the skin’s barrier. Look for oil-free SPF for breakout prone skin types.”