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Summer is almost here and what a gorgeous spring we have had getting us ready for it! Most of us really enjoy this lovely weather however whilst we’re out enjoying that sunshine it’s so important to be safe and to protect our skin. UVA rays are the biggest cause of premature ageing in the skin and damage from UVB rays will hugely increase your risk of skin cancer- this blog goes through what SPF is and how it can protect your skin from these harmful rays.

What is SPF and why do i need it?
SPF stands for sun protection factor. It’s a cream you apply that protects and slows down the rate at which your skin would burn in the sun. For example let’s say with no sun cream on your skin would start to burn in 10 mins so you apply SPF 2- this means your skin wouldn’t start to burn until 20 mins, if you wear SPF 4 it won’t burn for 40 mins, SPF 10 it won’t burn for 100 mins etc (For higher factors this doesn’t mean you can re apply less often- you should re apply suncream every 2 hours or after you have been in water). The SPF blocks the sun’s UVB rays and protects your skin from burning- the higher the number SPF for the higher the protection you’re getting (it’s worth noting that applying a factor 10 and a factor 20 won’t equal a factor 30! It would just be the higher the number of the two- the 20). As we all know sunburn is extremely dangerous- it can cause sunburn which is painful, dehydration which can make you very unwell and increases your chances of developing skin cancer.

What should I look for in my SPF?
You need a broad spectrum SPF which protects against UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are the ones that will burn your skin (this occurs in the upper layers) these are more present in intense sun and heat. UVA rays are present any time there is any day light at all- these ones can penetrate the skin deeper and cause cell damage which can cause significant ageing effects on the skin, UVA rays can also increase the risk of skin cancer. So when choosing your SPF you need one that protects against UVA and UVB and SPF 30 or 50 is recommended for the face.

Can I just use a body one on my face?
Sun cream for the body and sun cream for the face are formulated differently as your skin is different on the face to the body. Applying one designed for the body on your face might cause irritation (such as prickly heat) or block your pores.

How do I apply it?
Apply it liberally- being sparing with your SPF means it won’t work properly so don’t scrimp! Apply over your moisturiser and if you are wearing make up you would apply make up on top. You still need to reapply throughout the day even if you are wearing make up so a powdered sun cream would be the easiest to apply over the top!

I only need it for holiday right?

Nope you need it 365 days of the year! UVA rays are present any time there is any daylight and they can penetrate through windows and glass! So if you want to protect your skin from these harmful rays, reduce your risk of skin cancer and keep it looking younger then you need it all year round. SPF 15 (which can be found in some make up or moisturiser) should be sufficient on dull days but on sunny days SPF 30 is best. (An SPF 15 will block 93% of the sun rays whilst and SPF 50 will block 98%). 

Is it OK if it is in my make up or moisturiser?
Generally it is better if you wear a separate sun cream. This is because- the amount of moisturiser or make up you apply it is not usually enough to give you protection (remember what I said above about being very liberal with the product otherwise it doesn’t work). SPF creams do not necessarily make the best moisturisers and moisturisers do not necessarily make the best sun creams- if you want to use the best of both then get separate ones- having a two in one can comprise the results you can get from the product. If it is in your make up or moisturiser then you are getting some protection just bear in mind it might not be the amount that you think and it would still need to be reapplied regularly.  

What else can I do to protect my skin?

  • Wear a hat to keep your face covered (this is particularly important is you’re concerned with ageing)
  • Cover up- wear a t-shirt or loose layers (but still wear SPF underneath as the rays can penetrate through materials)
  • Stay in the shade especially when the sun is strongest between 10am and 4pm.
  • Drink lots of water to prevent dehydration
  • Avoid sunbeds completley!

So if you haven’t already then now would be a good time to add an SPF into your daily routine- and if you’ re missing that sunkissed glow just do what I do and Fake tan instead (much easier and safer)!

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