Sun protection, no matter where you live.
Here I am living in the southern hemisphere and summer is fading into our memory once again. Or, maybe for you, summer is just about to warm up and you might be thinking after a long winter, a little unprotected sunshine is good for me. 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! No matter what season you’re in, sun protection is a rail, hail or shine thing.
Despite the increase in awareness and education surrounding the importance of sun protection, it seems we’re still putting our skin at risk of skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma or worse, Melanoma skin cancer.
It seems despite all the education there are still many questions about the correct way to protect your skin. But, proper sun protection is not something only to be considered when the summer season roles around. Nope. This is a 365 days of the year skincare must do!!
So, what are those questions?
1. 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.
2. How high should the SPF be?
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 radiation then simply multiply 5 minutes by the sun protection factor on the label and this will give you an approximate for how long you can remain in the sun before you burn.
At this point, you’ll need to reapply or, and this is especially true if you’re fair skinned in which case, get the heck out of the sun. So if you burn in 5 minutes and you’re wearing a SPF50+ then you’ll have around 4 hours of protection before your skin begins to burn.
3. 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’ll not be guaranteed another 4 hours, especially if it’s a super hot day. The reason for this is, you have reached what’s known as your minimal erythemal dose (MED).
Sure, you’re still going to get some protection, but really? It’s 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, polarised and UV protective sunglasses.
4. 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 sunscreen may not provide enough overall cover.
5. 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 sunbeds 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.
6. 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 of at least 15+ but are broad spectrum.
Broad-spectrum means it will provide protection against both UVB (the burning rays) and UVA radiation (the rays reaching down deep into your dermis). These type of sunscreens should be applied underneath your makeup to ensure you’re well protected.
7. 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.
8. But what about Vitamin D?
As you get older, it is quite likely you’ll become deficient in Vitamin D. I’ve written about this before here, but it can show up in younger people as well.
If you’re 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 skincare 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 something lower doesn’t matter so much. What’s important is your consistent use of well-formulated, high-quality broad-spectrum sun protection. Your skin needs this kind of protection. Truly!
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 this article.
So have I convinced you yet? Or do you just slap on sunscreen during summer? Or, do you have a sun protection regimen that protects you 365 days of the year? I really hope so!
See you next time,