As more and more sunscreens hit the luxury beauty market, how do we know we are giving our skin the protection it needs from the sun.
In a survey by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (2015), results showed that only 8% of the 2,000 people questioned knew that the SPF rating on sun care labels only described protection against UVB rays. In this Skin Edit we are going back to the basics of sun protection.
SPF, or ‘Sun Protection Factor’ describes the protection provided by your sun cream against sun damage caused by UVB rays.
The SPF level does not describe the level of protection against all UV rays. A separate rating is used to indicate a products protection level for UVA rays. This is usually indicated by a star rating, or a rating of ‘low’, ‘medium’ or ‘high’.
SPF: SPF describes the level of protection against UVB rays. Typically measured by a number system, ranging from 2 (the lowest SPF) to 50+ (the strongest SPF). Cancer Research UK and the NHS recommend a minimum of an SPF15. Moreover, the British Association of Dermatologists recommend a minimum of SPF30.
Star Ratings: Star Ratings are employed to highlight the level of protection against UVA. UVA rays contribute 95% of the Earths surface UV radiation. Star ratings range from 1-to-5. A sunscreen with a minimum rating of 4 should be used when in the sun for prolonged periods of time.
Our lack of understanding moreover, extends beyond our ability to understand the labelling. Many of us do not understand the differences between the ultraviolet rays we are attempting to protect ourselves from. In the clinic, we are constantly telling our clients to use ‘Broad Spectrum’ sunscreens on a daily basis which protect the skin from both UVA and UVB, but what is the difference?
UVA Long Wave Ultraviolet A: UVA rays are the ones to watch if you are conscious about preventing premature skin-ageing and wrinkles (you should be conscious about this). Like UVB, they are a contributing factor to the development skin cancer and are able to penetrate deeper than UVB too.
UVB Short Wave Ultraviolet: UVB are the primary sun rays which cause sunburn. UVB rays damage the superficial epidermal layers of the skin and is a contributing factor to the development of skin cancer. In other words, UVB is bad. Don’t let it get you!
UVC Short Wave Ultraviolet C: Thankfully, these rays do not reach the Earths surface. Fortunately for us, they are the most harmful form of UV radiation.
Part of our mission at The Skin Edit, is to make every one of our clients ‘Sun Savvy’. Lesley Leale-Green highlights important facts and tips for staying sun safe this summer when you’re heading to the beach.
- 15% of adults with children, admitted that they had never checked the SPF factor of the sun cream they were using (RPS, 2015)
- Application is key. Cancer Research UK recommends the equivalent of applying two tablespoons of sunscreen (for the body) and two teaspoons of sunscreen (for the face and neck) every two hours when in the UK sun.
- 30 minutes is the amount of time you should leave between applying your sun protection and heading outdoors.
- Be time smart. Staying out of the sun between 11-3o’clock is vital to protect your skin and for preventing sun damage. Opt for shadier areas or fabulously dramatic sun hats and kaftans.
- 18-24months is the average shelf life of a sun cream. Look after your sun creams and they will look after you. Store them in a cool, dry space; this protects the active ingredients from over-exposure to heat. Always read the labels on your products. However, if you are using the creams as liberally as advised, they should not last that long anyway (hint, hint).
Through June – August, we are offering complimentary sun care consultations to make fun-in-the-sun safe! Call the clinic on 0208 299 2906 for further details.