Most of the UK has been spoilt for sunshine lately, and summer seems to be just around the corner, so now it’s more important than ever to take care of your skin. The only trouble is there seems to be a lot of conflicting information out there about different sunscreens and what effect the sun can have on your skin; some say it’s healthy, some say it should be avoided at all costs, some say use a high SPF cream, some say SPF doesn’t matter…it can all be very confusing!
So this #TopTipTuesday, we’re going to be getting to the bottom of these sunny skin myths, so all you need to worry about for your holiday is what swimsuit to pack!
How does sunscreen work?
Sunscreens utilise a mixture of inorganic compounds, which reflect UV rays, the way white paint reflects light, and organic compounds, which absorb UV radiation through their chemical bonds, causing a chemical reaction which results in the components of the sunscreen breaking down and giving off heat. Working together, these two types of compounds protect your skin from the sun’s rays.
What effects does sunlight have on your skin?
The part of the light spectrum that has an effect on your skin, and that sunscreen protects you from, is Ultra Violet, or UV. This is composed of three different types; UVa, UVb and UVc.
UVa doesn’t have any effect on sunburn, but instead, it penetrates deep into the skin, causing premature wrinkling, pigmentation and age spots, as well as a heightened risk of contracting various forms of skin cancers.
UVb is the wavelength that causes sun-burn – think B for Burning! It can also cause several types of skin cancer.
UVc is thought to be the most harmful of all the forms of UV light, but fortunately, it is entirely blocked by our atmosphere and never reaches the earth’s surface – phew!
But sunlight is also beneficial; exposure to UV light causes the body to produce Vitamin D, which helps us to build and maintain strong bones. How long it takes for the body to produce Vitamin D differs from person to person, depending on a variety of factors including skin tone, however it generally only takes a short time in the British summer sun to produce a healthy level. This means that you don’t have to spend hours sunbathing in order to get your daily dose of Vitamin D, and won’t have to risk burning or over-exposure to UVb.
What SPF rating should I use?
Again, this differs depending on the individual; however, most organisations recommend an SPF between 15 and 50. Remember, SPF is the rating that refers to UVb protection that stops you from burning, so you should make sure you invest in a product that also protects you from UVa.
The SPF number refers to how many times longer you can stay out in the sun before you burn, for example, if it takes 15 minutes for your skin to go red without sunscreen, using SPF 15 will lengthen that time to 3 hours and 45 minutes. This is why it is vitally important to reapply your sunscreen throughout the day.
Another thing to bear in mind is that no sunscreen can block 100% of UVb rays, although many of them come very close; SPF 15 blocks around 93% of UVb, SPF 30 around 97% and SPF 50 around 98%.
What if I burn, even with sunscreen?
We’ve talked a lot about the effect the sun can have on your skin, but what a lot of people don’t think about is the effect that sunscreen can have as well; many people with sensitive skin can actually react to the chemical sun filters in sunscreen which can lead to redness and irritation, as well as exacerbating symptoms of pre-existing conditions like acne or rosacea.
However, the conclusion that many people come to is to assume that it’s just sunburn and their sunscreen must not be working, resulting in a vicious cycle, with them applying more of the product that is irritating their skin, making them redder and more inflamed than before.
At SkinMed® we recommend using a sunscreen that is non-comedogenic, meaning that it won’t clog your pores, to reduce irritation and help to keep your skin clear, while still keeping you protected from the sun.
Sunwards® from SkinMed® is the perfect solution for anyone wanting a sunscreen that will keep these pores clear and their skin free from irritation, and our Rosacure® Intensive Cream with SPF 30 also contains active ingredients to hydrate your skin, and improve your tolerance to rosacea triggers.
So there you have it; everything you need to know about staying safe in the sun, in a nutshell. There may be benefits to spending time in the sun, but there are also dangers, and it’s so important for everyone to know how to stay safe, especially if you have sensitive skin.
SkinMed® has a variety of sunscreens designed to be suitable for many skin conditions, as well as those with sensitive skin.
Need help deciding what to buy? Take advantage of our trained skin specialists, they know skin inside and out as well as our extensive product ranges – that makes them the best people to ask when seeking advice.
So why not ask one of our team which sunscreen they think would work best for you? Contact us using the details below: