Skin 101: SPF
What actually is SPF?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and protects you from UVB Rays. The SPF measures how a sunscreen protects your skin in comparison to non protected skin. SPF 30 filters 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 filters 98% UV rays. The most important part is to make sure you are wearing SPF daily and reapplying every 2.5 hours.
UVA, UVB, UVC—what’s the difference?
UVA stands for Ultraviolet A (Aging) and is a long wavelength ray that penetrates right into the skin's dermis layer and is associated with speeding up the skin aging process. UVA rays damage the cells DNA and cause long term damage and can contribute to looking older. They are out from the beginning of the day to the end with no lessening of UV strength. UVA can penetrate the clouds and through glass and because of this you do not need the sun to be out to cause damage. Sunscreen is needed all year round (including winter!) regardless of whether the sun is out or not to protect your collagen, elasticity and skin.
UVB stands for Ultraviolet B (Burns) and are a short wavelength ray that damages the outer layers of the skin causing sun burning and dark spots on the skin. UVB rays are only out when the sun is out as it cannot penetrate the clouds and is responsible for the “Tan”. While people think a tan is a healthy look, it is in fact the skin trying to protect itself from UVB radiation damage. UVB rays also play a big role in causing skin cancers and this damage can start from a young age and manifest as you get into your middle years. Being sun smart and using sunscreen helps protect from this.
UVC stands for Ultraviolet C (Cancer) and are the shortest wavelength waves and the most dangerous. Luckily most of UVC rays are so short they rarely reach the atmosphere and are absorbed by the ozone layer. However with the ozone hole UVC rays are being filtered through in small amounts. UVC can cause damage to the eye, so don’t stare directly into the sun and get into a habit of wearing sunglasses!
Chemical v Physical sunscreens, what’s the difference?
Chemical sunscreen absorbs into the skin and prevents sun damage. A physical sunscreen is made of minerals like Zinc and Titanium Oxide. It sits on top of the skin and reflects the UV rays. Both chemical and physical formulas are very effective sunscreens. Chemical sunscreen works well with those that are active and sweat while mineral sunscreens work well with people who have sensitive or inflamed skin as Zinc helps with skin healing. Mineral sunscreens are also great for re-applying as they form an almost instant protection.
So, why do I need to wear it even inside?
Sunscreen should be part of your daily routine regardless of whether you spend a lot of time outside or not. Remember UVA rays can penetrate glass. That cup of tea by the kitchen window can be breaking down your collagen. Daily sunscreen use also protects skin from visible blue lights (from laptops, cell phones tablets and halogen lights), infrared (from heat sources like ceramic cooktops, fires). These sources penetrate deeper than UVA/B rays and speed up pre-mature aging
I know I need SPF but I hate the stickiness of sunscreen on my skin! Help?
There are many new generation sunscreens that are not thick and sticky, and it is very important to find a sunscreen that you feel comfortable to use. Mineral sunscreens like Skinsmiths Daily Defence Sheer SPF 30 is lightweight and sheer, giving you a strong SPF Protection without the sticky feeling. Its great for re-applying as it is weightless and provides immediate protection. Not only does Skinsmith Daily Defence Sheer protect against UV Rays, you have the added benefits of protecting the skin from blue light as well.
What about the under-eye area? Doesn’t that need protection too?
It is not recommended to put SPF under the eye area unless it has been ophthalmologist tested. It should be specifically made for the delicate skin around the eye area as it can cause reactions around the eye. The best way to get SPF around the eye is an eye cream that has an SPF like Murad Essential C Eye Cream SPF 15 and wearing sunglasses. The dark circling under the eye area is generally caused by microcirculation issues or thin skin rather than pigment from sun damage.
What happens when you don’t wear SPF?
Without SPF you will start to see uneven skin tone, dark spots and fine lines in your late 30’s, by the time you are in your mid 40’s you will start to see wrinkles from collagen and elasticity loss and dryness. And by the time you are in early 50’s lines will be deeper and skin will start to feel leathery with obvious collagen and elasticity loss.
This is just the start, damage to the DNA of the cell will lead to pre-cancerous cells. We can manage this simply by wearing SPF daily!
Your top sunscreen recommendations for different skin types:
Acne prone/oily - Oil-free light weight sunscreens are best suited for oily/acne prone skin. Look for mattifying benefits.
Sensitive - Mineral sunscreens work well for sensitive skin because the minerals help the skin to heal. Look for a sunscreen that has no fragrance and added soothing ingredients like our Skinsmiths Daily Defence Sheer that also soothes and calms with Liquorice Root Extract.
Dry - Steer away from matte sunscreens and look for sunscreens with added hydration. Mineral sunscreens work well with dry skin as they create a natural radiance and a sheer tint does wonders to add a glow like Murad's City Skin Age Defence Broad Spectrum SPF50
Aging - Sunscreen is the best anti-aging product that you can get. Look for a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects your skin from UVA and UVB rays with Vitamin E and added antioxidants to neutralise free-radical damage.
Want help choosing your SPF? Chat to us on social media or in clinic during a free skin consultation.