Most people think of the Sun as a healthy necessity in their lives. It keeps us warm, helps in many natural processes and gives us the best time of year – the summer!
And who doesn’t love the beach or a long relaxing day spent in the garden during the summer, right?
Despite the all the good that it does, the Sun can also be harmful, especially if we don’t protect ourselves well enough.
We now know that the Sun is a critical factor in the ageing of your skin. Just look at the main image of this post. It was taken using a ZEISS UV Camera which reveals sun damage from UV exposure.
In fact, Sun exposure may cause up to 90% of the visible changes attributed to ageing according to the World Health Organization. But, it’s not possible to avoid the sun altogether, and underexposure to the Sun is not good for us either.
You need a balance!
Overexposure to the sun damages skin cells and a lack of sun can lead to a deficiency in vitamin D. Which isn’t good as vitamin D is vital in strengthening our bones.
As a skin care specialist clinic, we suggest you should aim to protect your skin all the time. So, in this post, we want to talk about Sunscreen for face and body, why sunscreens are created, their ingredients, how they work, why you need them, and how to apply them correctly. If you need treatment to sun damage skin then suggest you look at our restore, renew and rejuvenate skin treatments.
Did you know that not all sunscreens are the same? By reading on you will learn about the different SPF protection factors and what you should look out for so you can protect your skin this summer.
So, let’s begin.
The primary goal of sunscreen is to protect the skin from the sun’s light, which is called ultraviolet radiation or UV rays for short.
What is Ultraviolet (UV) radiation?
UV radiation is a type of electromagnetic radiation, and the Sun is the primary source of UV rays. The Sun’s UV light has dangerous effects on our skin, for example, sunburn, which is a factor that contributes to skin cancer and premature ageing.
There are different UV rays, depending on their wavelengths and they are divided into two types called UVA and UVB rays.
UVA rays age the skin cells, as they are damaging the core DNA of the cells. You won’t see the immediate results from the UVA rays since they go deeper below the surface into the skin.
The UVA rays are connected with skin damage like wrinkles and skin sag – the things that you are all trying to avoid. They also pose a large and potential risk factor for developing skin cancer.
The base level of the skin is composed of a substance called collagen and elastin fibres. These harmful UVA rays are breaking the collagen and elastin fibres down. The effect is an apparent in later life which causes wrinkles and pigmented skin.
UVB rays (the burning waves) have more energy than UVA rays. They can damage the DNA of the cells immediately and cause the skin to burn, which we call sunburn. This makes the UVB rays a more potent cause of skin cancers.
How does sunscreen protect us from UV rays?
There are 27 FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved sunscreen ingredients, from which only 16 are currently used. Here in Europe, the Europe European Union maintains a list of 27 sunscreen molecules, which, like the FDA-approved sunscreens, are subject to testing and maximum dosage restrictions. Few of the beneficial ingredients are classed as UVA protectors, but as time passes, more innovative components are being created that address other issues like infrared radiation.
To keep things simple, there are two types of sunscreens: physical and chemical.
Physical sunscreens (sun blockers) use minerals like zinc oxide and titanium oxide which deflect solar radiation.
Since zinc oxide and titanium oxide are carbon-based, the physical sunscreens are also called organic sunscreens. They are capable of reflecting the Sun’s rays by acting as a physical barrier.
These ingredients are found in baby nappy rash ointments, where they are also creating a physical barrier.
On the other hand, chemical blockers absorb the Sun’s rays. They work by a chemical reaction.
First, chemical sun blockers absorb the light beams, then they change the UV rays into heat, and they release the heat from the skin.
Chemical sunscreens are made of organic compounds like Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Benzophenone, Avobenzone, and Octisalate. These creams create a thin film on the skin that is reducing the UVR – ultraviolet radiation penetration to the skin.
However, here is the kicker: If you are not able to find a sunscreen that contains both chemical and physical protection (against UVA and UVB rays), or if the sunscreens are irritating your skin, you should look for a sunscreen that boasts broad-spectrum protection. That is protection against all UVR.
The SPF Factor
SPF stands for a measure of protection that the sunscreen will produce from UVB rays before one begins to burn. Sunscreens are essential, even if you don’t “burn”, you are not immune to the Sun’s rays and the consequences of them.
People with darker skin tone have more built-in protection from sunburn, but still, that cannot stop the effects of UVA rays. Using sun cream for darker skin is as important.
Sunscreens are excellent protection for all the types of skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. The worst thing is that you can’t see the carcinogenic processes while they are happening. Besides the many health-related issues that are caused by not-wearing sunscreens, there are varieties of aesthetic complications.
The leading factor in premature ageing is sun damage, and this is something that is often seen in clinic especially in patients in their 50s.
Sun damage leads to a loss of elasticity in the skin, especially in the face and the décolletage chest area.
Thus, we recommend you use some form of sunscreens or sun protection every day when outside. Previous studies published in the American College of Physicians’ Annals of Internal Medicine, show that sunscreen can help prevent photoaging – premature aging caused by the sun.
You should be especially careful if you are going to be exposed to the sun for a more extended period during the day, like going to the beach or spending time in your garden.
Sunscreens that have an SPF 15 or even higher are designed to protect our skin against the Sun’s rays. Sunscreens that have an SPF of 15 blocks around 94% of all UV rays. Most medical opinions recommend an SPF of at least 30.
The difference between sunscreens with SPF 30, SPF 45, SPF 50 and SPF 60 is around 1, to 6%.
How to apply the sunscreens if you’ll be exposed to the Sun for an extended period during the day?
Apply the sunscreen about 30 minutes before you leave your home. Soon after you go outside, apply it once again. You must repeat this process every two to three hours.
If you go for a swim, you should reapply the sunscreen on your body and especially on your face. Wearing protective clothing with UPV (Ultraviolet protection factor) will help when in and out of the water, especially for young children.
The official recommendation is that you should use 2 mg of sunscreen per cm2 of your body. This is equivalent to the area of your fingertip.
Remember; try using an umbrella or trees as a shelter during the hottest part of the day and try to avoid exposure to the Sun during peak hours which is between the hours of 10 am – 2 pm.
Wearing sunscreens on a daily basis is recommended, even if it is cloudy outside, which is very typical here in Rutland, UK.
Every morning, as part of your skincare routine, use a physical-blocker sunscreen (cream is ideal). Sensitive skin people should re-apply the cream every two hours, especially if they have direct sun exposure.
Now, you might be wondering about whether sunscreens go out of date? Be careful with the expiration date of the sunscreen. Have in mind that sunscreens maintain their original strength between two to three years. If you buy sunscreens that do not have an expiration date, write the date down when you have purchased it and after two years, stop using it and throw it away.
How to apply sunscreen on your face?
If you want to achieve the maximum benefit from your sunscreens, you should learn how to use them.
For the face, you need to know that a broad-spectrum sunscreen is the best option. It is the one that protects against UVB rays and UVA rays.
Apply the sunscreen to all the parts of the body that are likely to be exposed to the Sun. Typically the face, back of your neck, ears, chest, arms and don’t forget your feet.
For the sunscreen to be effective, you need to use a generous amount of sunscreen. You should apply the sunscreen generously over the face and spread it evenly. Dab it on the surface of the skin without rubbing it out.
When you first spread out the sunscreen, your skin will look white – coated with the sunscreen. You should leave the face like that for about five minutes. During those five minutes, the sunscreen will soak into the skin and will become active.
After 10 minutes, there won’t be any sign on your face from the sunscreen. Once done, you should wait about fifteen to thirty minutes before you go out of the house. Planning is always crucial, and if it becomes part of your daily skincare routine, especially when on holiday, then even better.
If you are going to be outside for an extended period, you will have to re-apply every couple of hours. If you can, washing your face before re-applying the sunscreen, would be great.
Another very often asked question is whether you should use sunscreen on a cloudy day and in winter. Well, the ultraviolet light penetrates through the clouds even if you can’t see the sun. So, you need to use sunscreen even on cloudy days if you plan to be outdoors for extended periods.
Notably, in areas with substantial snowfall like while on your winter skiing holiday, did you know that you are getting a double dose of UV light due to the reflective light from the snow, so don’t forget your sunscreen on winter holidays too.
How to re-apply sunscreen over makeup?
As said before, the best option is to choose a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. The first application of sunscreens that is part of your morning routine is a fundamental base of protection.
The reapplication over makeup cannot be done after swimming or heavy outdoor activities. If you are doing this, then you will have to re-apply another base.
Throughout the day, even as your makeup gets rubbed off so does the sunscreen.
So as long as you have an excellent double cleansing routine, you’re doing great.
Starting with an excellent facial cleanser is the only thing that can dissolve a good sunscreen. Following that up with a good makeup cleanser will remove all traces of sunscreen, and your skin will be ready for reapplication.
We found this video by Diana Grace on YouTube which does a good job showing how you can reapply sunscreen over your makeup.
What is the best type of sunscreen?
As I said before, you will need to look for the following things:
- Broad spectrum sunscreen that covers UVB and UVA
- To have at least SPF 30.
- Water-resistance (it can keep the protection for at least 20-minute intervals of activities in the water).
For daily use, a moisturiser with SPF 30 is an excellent choice, especially when it becomes part of your daily skincare routine. If you prefer using a spray product, ensure you cover your skin correctly; as you will need several coats.
There are a lot of sunscreen products and brands on the market, so to help, we have compiled a competence list of the best sunscreen products to help you choose the right one.
To sum up, the Sun is helping us in many ways, it makes us happy and provides all essential vitamin D for healthy bones. However, if you don’t protect yourself from the Sun, by using the right products and applying them correctly and often enough; over time, your skin will become damaged and will age faster.
To keep your skin healthy and younger longer, we advise you to prepare your day, take good care of your skin and introduce high-quality sunscreen protection into your daily skincare routine.
What is the bottom line? Enjoy the sunny days, but do it with sunscreen!
For the best advice and protection for you and your family, speak to your nearest skin care professional, such as someone like Dr Dhesi about sunscreen products that match your skin type and protection needs, and find products for your daily skincare routine.
- Main image source https://www.zeiss.com/vision-care/int/eye-care-professionals/products/spectacle-lenses/zeiss-lenses-with-uvprotect-technology.html
- Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCqIwBECQdk