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Why is Sunscreen the Queen of skincare?

As usual our British summer has been hit and miss, with the usual rain, scorching sun and grey clouds. Sometimes all within one hour. But whilst most of us are good at slapping on the sunscreen on the scorchers, we’re not so good at protecting our skin the rest of the time. So why is it important to wear sunscreen every day?
Even when the sun isn’t shinning, ultraviolet rays are still able to damage your skin. In fact, UV rays can penetrate cloud and glass! You may be relying on the SPF in your moisturiser and foundation to protect your skin, but what if I told you that it’s not enough?

What is SPF and the star rating?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and the higher number, the longer it will protect you from UVB rays. Put simply UVB rays have a short wave length and strong energy levels. This means they effect the epidermal (superficial) layers of the skin, which causes burning and most types of skin cancer.

SPF does not protect our skin from UVA rays though, so choosing a sunscreen based purely on this may not protect your skin from premature ageing. UVA rays have a longer wavelength and weaker energy, so they penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin and cause tanning. Because UVA penetrates the deeper layers it is the biggest cause of premature skin ageing. On top of that UVA can penetrate clouds and windows!

To protect your skin from UVA you need to check out the star rating of the sunscreen. The star rating refers to the level of protection a product has against UVA and is graded 1-5. The more stars a product has the higher the protection. Always look for 4 stars or above.

But you love a tan? I’m sorry to say that tanning is the body’s way of protecting your skin from being further damaged by the sun. It is, in fact, proof that your skin has been damaged by UV rays.

Different types of sunscreen

Chemical sunscreens are very popular because they are easy to apply and don’t leave any white residue on the skin. They are available as lotions, oils and sprays. They take about 20 minutes to be effective, penetrate deeper layers of skin. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing UV rays, turning them it into heat and then releasing the heat through the skin.

However, some chemical sunscreens do not protect against UVA rays adequately, if at all. They are not great for people with sensitive skin, rosacea, acne or hyperpigmentation, often making them worse. There is also the possibility that the chemicals are absorbed into the blood stream, but research is ongoing.

Mineral or physical sunscreen can have that white or chalky look and are available in creams and lotions. These products sit on top of the skin surface and deflect UVA and UVB rays in the way a mirror would reflect light. They are effective as soon as they are applied, and because most people can use them without it exacerbating any skin conditions, they are recommended by dermatologists and skin specialists. High end brands are usually less chalky than others.

Sunscreen checklist

  • Choose a broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or higher and use it daily all year round.
  • Check that the star rating is 4-5.
  • Make sure it is a mineral or physical product. Look for the main ingredients of zinc oxide and/or titanium oxide.
  • If you are out in the sun reapply every 2 hours or sooner if you are sweaty or swimming.
  • Don’t forget to apply it to your neck and décolletage

We stock lots of skincare and SPF in clinic that can also be posted to your home address after an in clinic or online consultation.

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