It’s come to that time of the year again. Over the next few months England will experience dapples of sunshine and some days of delicious, and simultaneously excruciating, extreme heat (that’s medium heat of about 20˚ to those who live in a warmer climate). As it’s seasonally appropriate, I’m going to talk about sun protection, a topic that is unavoidably important in terms of health and beauty. Sun protection is something I feel very strongly about. There are many myths and misconceptions that contribute to the way many of us approach that giant flaming ball in the sky, but unfortunately this could have some damning consequences. Using some thorough research and the wise words of a few experts, I’ve compiled some facts and information to create a useful guide on sun protection.
- UV light causes harm by damaging cellular DNA.
- Two types of UV rays: UVA (long-wave, causes aging) UVB (short-wave, causes burn). To see a visual representation of aging, see the picture below.
- Sunburn is the result of UVB literally killing layers of your skin cells – ouch!
- Whilst our skin will repair the top layers of damage caused by ultraviolet, the deeper damage caused is permanent and what leads to skin cancer.
- Melanin acts as a natural sun protection, so the less melanin you have, the less natural protection you have from the sun. My empathy is with my fellow extremely pale skinned people.
This image is a very blatant illustration of the long term consequences of sun damage. The man shown was a lorry driver whose left side was often unprotected and exposed to the sun through his window.
- ‘A healthy tan is good’ – sorry to rain on your sunny day, but, any tanning to the skin is injury caused by the sun.
- ‘We’re protected from the sun on a cloudy day’ – while UVB rays are weaker on cloudy days, they’re still present. UVA rays, on the other hand, are very much present, causing deeper damage to our cellular DNA and leading to ageing and skin cancer. Yikes.
- ‘If you have darker skin, you don’t need to use sun cream’ – although the phrase ‘black don’t crack’ seems to ring very true, melanin doesn’t completely block out ultraviolet rays so it’s best to use sunscreen to really prevent accelerated ageing and burning.
- ‘You can reverse the effects of sun damage’ – no, you can’t. You can deal with them by disguising aesthetic damage or removing cancers, but you can’t reverse anything.
What you should do:
- Protect and prevent sun damage from a young age – better to prevent ageing and skin cancer than have to deal with it later on.
- Even if you’ve neglected sun-care in the past, start protecting yourself asap. Any protection can make a lot of difference.
- Wear sunscreen as much as possible, even if you’re only outside to travel, as you’re probably under the sun more than you think. Of course, in England, sun protection is less vital in the winter months, but it can’t do any harm.
- Don’t let your SPF give you a false sense of security. You should attempt to use other forms of protection, such as hats and sitting in shaded areas, this will really prevent you from reaping the consequences of sunlight.
- Use a broad spectrum suncream, the higher the better like Nivea Sun Moisturising Lotion Factor 30. However, it should be noted that there is only a minimal difference in UVB protection between factor 30 and 50. Factor 30 should block out 97% of UVB and factor 50 should block out 98%.
- They go out of date, replace every six months (giving you no excuse to use sparingly).
- There is no such thing as a water-proof sun cream, only water resistant.
- Use a separate moisturiser and SPF – SPF will override ingredients in the moisturiser and it probably isn’t enough protection. Additionally, avoid using SPF infused creams at night as it can clog your pores and induce more acne.
- The same applies to makeup with SPF. That factor 10 foundation probably isn’t protective enough. Use a high factor facial sun cream. I like to use La Roche-Posay Anthelios Comfort Cream SPF50+. If you’re on a budget, a body sun cream will also suffice.
- Reapply at least every hour and a half.
- Thoroughly cleanse and wash when removing makeup and SPF – sun creams designed to stay put so will be stubborn to remove.
So that is a condensed compilation of some important sun-care information. Although it’s really important to look after yourself, don’t be scared to enjoy the sun while it is available. Of course you will probably still desire a gorgeously bronzed complexion and that’s ok, but stay as safe as you can. Also it’s important to remember that every skin tone is beautiful, so I would encourage to try and embrace your natural colouring.
Do you have any burning opinions that you’d like to share? If so, comment below.
Thanks for reading.