Fortunately, we've become more sun smart in recent times. The ramifications from the harmful ultraviolet rays (UV) are well known, and most of us know someone who has been affected by skin cancer. Whether you chuck on a hat, sunnies or simply keep in the shade, reducing your skins exposure to the UV rays is very important. The most important precaution is adding a product containing SPF.
Written across many sun safety products, SPF stands for the products Sun Protection Factor. This is a scientific measure of how long sunscreen will protect your skin from the UV rays. For example, SPF30 sunscreen means it will take 30x longer to burn your skin with the sunscreen on than it would without. It's important to note that Sunscreen and SPF are two very different things, although you'd be unlikely to find a Sunscreen without SPF.
SPF VS SUNSCREEN
Sunscreen is the name given to the actual lotion or formula that you then apply to your skin.
SPF is the scientific number referred to above that is assigned to a sunscreen to describe is UVB protection.
You may have also come across Broad Spectrum SPF. Similarly this is the quantifiable number given to a sunscreen to describe its UVB and UVA protection. UVB rays are what causes burning of the skin. UVA rays causes photoaging sun as wrinkles, loss of collagen and brown spots.
How does it work?
SPF works in 1 of 2 ways. They either physically block the rays or they cause a chemical reaction absorbing the rays. They are called physical and chemical sunscreens respectively.
Physical Sunscreens contain mineral ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to block the UV rays before they penetrate the skin. They usually thicker, leaving a bit of a white colouring on the skin.
Chemical sunscreens contain ingredients such as avobenzone and octisalate that absorb the UV rays before they can damage the skin.
Which is better will depend on the person, and in all honesty, any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen. There are some incredible broad spectrum, sunscreens on the market that also contain a number of incredible ingredients that benefit the skin!
How much and how often?
Sunscreen needs to be applied daily, and reapplied, especially if outdoors. The harmful rays can still damage the skin on a cloudy day, or even through a window when you can't even feel it. So similar to your moisturiser, don't forget your sunscreen!
So how much? Now this is the shocking part. Most of us do not apply enough sunscreen. It's recommended the average person needs 6 full teaspoons worth of sunscreen to properly cover and protect the body.
Be sun safe!