Let’s talk SPF. Its one of those topics that gets so much attention through conversation and social media. Everyone knows SPF is important and everyone tries to do the right thing. But do we use the 50, 15 or 30 plus?! And if I’m just inside all day do I even need it at all? Then we turn on Peter Mitchell for the 6 pm news and there’s a story about how some of the biggest branded SPF’s are not doing what they say at all. GAHHHH HELP!!! Let me try to make things a little clearer ?
With the cooler months approaching, I want to take a moment to quickly talk about the importance of your continued use of SPF. People are usually very meticulous with SPF in the warmer months, but it gets to winter and we get lazy and forget about it. Just because the sun isn’t shining doesn’t mean we aren’t being exposed to nasty UV. Let me give you a really quick rundown on the different types of UV and how they damage our skin and a few very important things to look for when choosing an SPF.
UVA: Or, UV-Ageing as we like to call it in the SKN world. These are the UV wavelengths that are very long. Which means they penetrate deeply into the human skin creating things such as lines and wrinkles. This is the UV that is responsible for premature ageing. UVA also makes up 95% of the UV that reaches the earth’s surface! WOWZZZERSSSSSSSS.
UVB: Or UV-Burn as we call it. This is he UV responsible for tanning, redness and burning in the skin as it has a shorter wavelength.
UVC: This is UV light that doesn’t affect the earth’s surface. So why am I bring it up? Because it can be found in man-made sources such blowtorches. This was also used in those awful tanning beds that are now (thankfully) banned.
So when we are looking for an SPF, it is very important that we find something that is a ‘Broad Spectrum” This means it protects us from ALL UV light. We also want to ensure our SPF is an SPF of at least 30plus. SPF = Sun Protection Factor. However, this is when it can be confusing. SPF50 is not twice as strong as SPF25. The Sun Protection factor is in fact still individual to everyone. WHAT???!!!!
For example. Take the amount of time it would usually take you to get a little pink from the sun. In direct sunlight with no sun protection. For some that could be 2 minutes, for some 22 minutes. Let’s pretend its 10 minutes. Now times that by your SPF factor. Let’s say 10 x 15spf = 200. That means you have 200 minutes of protected time in the sun. 200 minutes is approximately 3hrs 20 minutes. So, what does this mean? Does this mean I reapply after 3 hours and go on my merry way? Most people think yes. The correct answer is… yes, reapply your SPF…. But NO, you may not stay out in the sun. This is your time to cover up and move into the shade. Why? Why wont added SPF application give me another 3 hours? Think of it like this. If you marinated a chicken and put it in the oven to cook for the suggested 30 minutes, then after 30 minutes you took it out and reapplied marinate. When you put the chicken back in the oven would it start cooking from the beginning again? No….. it would continue to cook through and burn. Same same people. Get yourselves out of the sun. It really is that simple.
There are also articles out there than will say, this is the time to now put on your ‘physical’ sunscreen. What? What do they mean? I physically had sunscreen on your fools!! Aside from SPF’s and UV, there’s another thing to take into consideration when choosing an SPF. Yes, we know… another thing. SIGH.
There are physical sunscreens and chemical sunscreens. * side note……. Notice how I haven’t called them ‘sunblock’ at all? There is no such SPF that will ‘BLOCK’ the sun…. it is a screen and protection from UV damage. If you stay exposed to the sun, you WILL burn, SPF or not. * Now, where were we?
Physical sunscreen – This is the one we want people!! Protects your skin by reflecting and scattering the UV from the skin’s surface. Physical sunscreen will contain zinc oxide and titanium oxide which are UVA and UVB blockers. Both ingredients are very healing and an anti-inflammatory for the skin.
Chemical sunscreen – These are usually sunscreens we find on supermarket shelves and will usually be a higher SPF. All products in Australia with an SPF50 rating will be a chemical sunscreen. They are usually cheaper to manufacture and can, therefore, be more affordable when people are needing to apply it liberally and to the whole body. Chemical sunscreen ‘protect’ skin by absorbing the UV, converting it to heat, then releasing it from the skin. Yeh…. Doesn’t sound pretty hey. And it’s not. Not only are the chemicals harmful to our skin and can cause irritation and congestion, they are actually allowing the UV to be absorbed before releasing it.
Another concern I know many people struggle with, especially when we talk about wearing an SPF on a daily basis, is that sunscreen makes them break out, or they don’t like the smell. I absolutely hear you. However, a treatment, physical SPF shouldn’t make you break out. Try getting your SPF from a skin specialist, beauty salon or professional skin care range. They contain zinc oxide which is so incredibly anti-bacterial and healing for the skin. We sometimes prescribe our SPF as a moisturiser for our truly acne clients as a starting point. TRUTH!!!!
Now any SPF on a day in the sun is better than none. But when you are looking to purchase your next bottle of SPF, especially for your face, neck and chest ( because let’s be real, these areas show signs of ageing, pigmentation and dehydration first) look for a physical, broad spectrum SPF of 30. We like O Cosmedics Mineral Pro SPF 30plus.
Hopefully, I haven’t put you off the sun for life. The sun is great, and those warm summer days, fresh spring afternoons and crisp autumn mornings are something everyone should enjoy! Just make sure you have your SPF on and know when it’s time to pop in the shade and grab a bevvie.