Protecting your skin from the harmful rays of the sun is very important all year round, yet many people still aren’t using products with SPF built in. Here, we take a closer look at what SPF actually means, why it’s so important and how you should be applying your sun protection products so you can be better informed about how to care for your skin.
What Is An SPF?
The term “SPF” means Sun Protection Factor. This is a term that’s used to measure how much a protection a product can give from UVB rays. There are two types of UV radiation emitted from the sun – UVB and UVA. UVB rays are responsible for sunburn while UVA rays penetrate deeply into the skin, causing damage and premature aging.
What Damage Is Caused By UV Rays?
Although most of us like to have a glowing tan, it’s important to be aware that tanning is a sign of skin damage. Damage caused by the sun shows itself as uneven pigmentation, and dull and loose skin. UV rays are responsible for 90% of the signs of aging that we spot on our faces, including rough patches, skin pigmentation, sagging and wrinkles.
Also, of course, it goes without saying that UV rays also carry a risk of skin cancer. Using skin products with an in-built SPF is the best way to guard against that damage and to keep your skin looking beautiful even when the sun shines.
Physical And Chemical Sunscreens
Now that you’ve established that you should be protecting your skin with a sunscreen, should it be a chemical or physical one? While a chemical sunscreen is absorbed into the skin before absorbing the UV rays, physical sunblocks sit on the skin’s surface, reflecting the rays. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate and avobenzone, while physical sunblocks contain ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Physical sunblocks are less irritating and therefore are best for sensitive skin however they can be hard to blend properly into the skin. If you’re looking for water-resistance, a chemical sunscreen is a better choice since it is absorbed rapidly into the skin.
Choosing Your SPF Product
Whether you opt for a chemical or physical SPF product, there are a number of things to consider when making your choice:
- Choose a product which protects against both UVB and UVA rays
- Choose a noncomedogenic product that is oil free
- Choose a paraben free product
- Look for an SPF of at least 30 and preferably 50.
Applying Your SPF Product
It’s important to apply your SPF product properly to ensure maximum protection for your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Most people don’t use sufficient sunscreen to protect themselves – you should be using the equivalent of a shot glass full of sunscreen to cover your whole body. Always apply your sunscreen after your moisturiser but before your foundation and apply it before leaving the house so that it has time to sink into your skin. Remember that you should be using an SPF product all year round, not only in summer, and you should also, remember to reapply it regularly throughout the day to maintain your level of protection.