So, you either live in the southern hemisphere like me, or you live way over there in the Northern Hemisphere, in which case, summer for you is wrapping up and you’re on your way to the cooler winter months. You can put your sunscreen away. Woah! Hold up there! We need to talk about this.
Whichever way you look at it, the changing of the season brings with it demands on your skin. With summer approaching it’s always time to think about sun protection. But wait! If you do live in the Northern Hemisphere don’t click away just yet as all this sun protection still applies no matter where you live. Rail hail or shine you need sun protection.
Despite the increase in awareness and education surrounding the importance of sun protection, it seems we are still putting our skin at risk of skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma or the most lethal, Melanoma.
So many questions come to mind and you certainly should protect from the risks of skin cancer but, these are not questions we should just ask when the delights of summer arrive. Nope. This is 365 days of the year skin care must do!!
Am I applying my sunscreen correctly?
Whether your sunscreen is incorporated into your moisturiser or you just slap it on during the warmer months, how much you apply to your skin DOES matter. You skin needs an even and protective coating in order to protect you adequately. Allow at least 20 minutes before venturing outdoors into the sun.
Should I opt for SPF50+ or is SPF30+ or even 15+ enough and what does it all mean anyway?
SPF is the acronym for (just in case you didn’t know) Sun Protection Factor and the number represents how long it takes before you burn in the sun. So as an example, if it normally takes you 5 minutes before your skin turns pink when exposed to UV light then simply multiply the 5 minutes by 50 and there you have how long your SPF50 will last you before you need to reapply or get the heck out of the sun. So, in this example, you would have 250 minutes before you started to burn or just under 4 hours. But it always depends on how long it takes you to burn.
If SPF50 gives me nearly 4 hours of protection can I just reapply to get another 4 hours?
Well, that would be a nice idea, but despite re-application, you should consider reducing your sun exposure after this time as you will not be guaranteed another 4 hours, especially if it’s a super hot day. The reason for this is, you have reached your minimal erythemal dose (MED). Sure, you are still going to get some protection, but really? Time to cover up and stay in the shade. If you work outdoors, then I suggest your best option is protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat and of course, polarized and UV protective sunglasses.
What about spray-on sunscreens?
As we have already discussed, if your sunscreen is to be effective it needs to be applied evenly and liberally, so although a spray on seems like a convenient option unless you take extra care in application, a spray on sun screen may not provide enough overall cover.
Does wearing a sunscreen guarantee I am protected from the dangers of Melanoma?
Sadly no, but it does greatly reduce the risk. The exact cause of Melanoma is, for the most part, unknown and although sun protection and sun beds are major contributing factors. So, reduce the risk by minimising your time in the sun by wearing a well-formulated sunscreen and covering up with protective clothing once you have been out in the sun for more than a few hours. Vitally important in risk reduction.
But, my makeup has an SPF? Is that enough?
Many makeup formulations have some kind of sun protection, which is great, but rarely enough. Look for sunscreens that not only have a high SPF rating but are broad spectrum. Broad spectrum means it will provide protection against both UVB (the burning rays) and UVA (the rays reaching down deep into your dermis). These type of sunscreens should be applied underneath your makeup to ensure you are well protected.
Should I really wear sunscreen 365 days of the year?
If you are serious about protecting, not just from the perils of skin cancer but also in keeping your skin looking amazing for as long as possible, then YES protection 365 days of the year is a very, very good idea.
Sun damage is something that builds up over time. The exposure of a lifetime can begin to show itself in other ways such as unsightly hyperpigmentation, premature lines and wrinkles and your skin can become far more sensitive and repair mechanisms slow down and that’s not good if you want healthy glowing skin.
But what about Vitamin D?
As you get older, it is quite likely you will become deficient in Vitamin D. I have written about this beforehere. It should be considered, the problem is more so, the amount of time we all spend indoors these days which is more likely to cause Vitamin D deficiencies rather than how often you wear sun protection. If you are worried, get your doctor to test your levels, take 10 minutes of mild sun exposure every day and include Vitamin D rich foods in your diet to ensure you are getting all you need.
If I only had one beauty tip for you…
It would be, wear sun protection 365 days of the year. If you want your sons and daughters to have beautiful skin for a very long time, then start them as early as possible, most good quality sun protection can be introduced from around 12 months old. Whether you decide to opt for SPF50+ or opt for something slightly lower, what is important is your consistent use of well-formulated, high-quality broad-spectrum sun protection. Your skin needs this kind of protection. Truly!
I rather like the UltraceuticalsSun Active range(pictured) as it not only gives great SPF50+ protection but also doubles as a moisturiser without leaving the skin feeling heavy, oily or too white as some sunscreens can do. But there are other good sun protection products available and I will do a round-up of some of the best in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, if you want to know a whole lot more about protecting your skin from the sun (not just sun protection) and reversing any sun damage you may already have, check out thisarticle.
So have I convinced you yet? Or do you just slap on sunscreen during summer? Or do you have a sun protection regiment that protects you 365 days of the year? Share your thoughts below by leaving a comment.