We get a lot of questions about Sun Protection and now we’re actually seeing a bit more of the lovely warm weather (fingers crossed) we asked Sharon Hilditch MBE, Founder and Managing Director of Crystal Clear International, about it.
Ok, the sun that impacts our skin contains two types of harmful rays – Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis, the skin’s thickest layer, so this is the main one we want to protect against but both are equally harmful in different ways.
Screen or Block?
You can protect yourself with sunscreen or sunblock. These are not the same thing and people often mistake screen for block. Sunblock is opaque and is stronger than Sunscreen and therefore it doesn’t need to be re-applied quite as often but, due to its opaque nature most people opt for sunscreen because it is almost always transparent and can be used underneath makeup or without makeup – allowing your natural skin-tone to come through as usual.
The down side of sunscreen is that it needs to be applied more frequently.
Let’s get frequency out of the way first because it confuses a lot of people. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and sounds complicated so bear with me but – an SPF factor is the term used to indicate the minimum time it could take for you to burn whilst using that particular sun protection product (compared to the minimum time required to burn without a sun protection product).
So, as an example, if you get burned after 20 minutes in the sun without sunscreen then, if properly applied, SPF30 will allow you to stay in the sun 30 times longer without burning (600 minutes theoretically). But it isn’t that easy. Sorry. The amount of time you are protected also very much depends on the amount of UV light reaching us (which is determined by a few factors, including, cloud cover, time of day, reflection off the ground or water) – so it’s generally advised you apply sunscreen every 2 hours in the summer months. I definitely agree with this.
But I’ve given this explanation to show that, even in spring and winter you should be protecting yourself against the sun. Other countries are much better at doing this than us. In February in England you might well get away with applying a good sunscreen and it protecting you for 10 hours. Or applying moisturisers with lower factors because obviously the sun isn’t as strong or out for as many hours.
Whatever protection you are using – apply it at least 30 minutes before going into the sun. This allows your skin to completely absorb the protection evenly and for it to form the barrier required for proper effectiveness.
Ultra Violet Radiation
An efficient sunscreen should not only prevent sunburn but also minimise the accumulation of radiation damage to the skin. Therefore the efficiency of a sunscreen is defined not only by its shielding capacity, but also its UV ‘Attenuation’. So, make sure you look out for its UV, UVA or UVB rating. Overexposure of Ultra Violet Radiation (UVR) can have a harmful effect to the skin so the UV or UVB rating is preventing this for you.
Next, I always want my sun protection to contain excellent anti-oxidant properties. Vitamin E is great for this. To protect your surface skin cells and prevent erythema, dehydration and ageing you want to look out for ingredients like Lupine Extract. Lastly look out for Titanium Dioxide – this is a fantastic protector against ultraviolet A (UVA).
And then enjoy the sunshine!
Hope that helps.