I am a huge advocate for sun-care. I have no idea when it all started, but looking after myself in the sun has become a big deal for me in recent years. In our current heat wave, you would be hard pushed to find me without my sunglasses and sunscreen in my bag when I’m out and about!
I know some people find the facts and figures either boring or confusing, or a bit of both! But I think it is such an important message to try and get across, so thought I would try and put together a few tips I have come across over the years, all in one handy post!
The Do’s and Don’ts of Sunscreen
DO look for the UVA star rating on labels. UVA rays are what cause long term skin damage as it penetrates the skin deeper. This is what causes wrinkles. Just because a sunscreen has a high SPF (say 30 or 50+) does not mean it has good protection against UVA rays! Products with 4 or 5 stars offer the best all round protection.
DON’T forget about UVB rays! This reaches the top layer of the skin and is what is linked to skin cancer. There is no star rating for this. The generally rule of thumb is, the higher the SPF the better protection you have against UVB – but always check it is there on the label!
DO pick the best SPF factor for your skin type. A lot of misconceptions around SPF numbers are that the numbers equal the amount of minutes you can stay in the sun, or that it’s the percentage of sun it blocks against. In actual fact, the SPF is all to do with how long you can stay in the sun without burning. So, if you have a sunscreen with SPF 30, this means you can stay in the sun 30 times longer without burning than you would if you weren’t wearing any sun protection. BUT – this doesn’t take into account your skin type! Someone with fairer skin is going to burn much quicker than someone with darker skin, so the time is relative to each person. As soon as I feel my skin getting hot, I will apply more sunscreen! If it wasn’t that long ago since I last applied it, that’s generally a good hint that the SPF wasn’t high enough. You should be looking to reapply sunscreen every 1-2 hours.
DON’T assume factor 50 is the best option. SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. SPF 30 blocks 97%. I read an article somewhere (I was stupid enough to not save it – do you think I can find it anywhere to link to now?! No! So frustrated with myself!) that dermatologists advise against some factor 50’s as they clog your pores and don’t allow your skin to breathe. The factor 50’s I’ve seen, I would say, fall under that category. I find them really thick and always show on the skin. So – is it worth it for that extra 1%? Obviously, if you are very fair, 30 may just not be enough. But my personal preference in hot sun is factor 30.
Why sunglasses are a must!
DO you know that your eyes are 10 times more sensitive to UV than your skin? Just think of how easy it is for your skin to burn. Now think of what you do to protect your eyes. Scary thought isn’t it! Sunglasses are a great accessory in the summer – but always look for sunnies with UVA and UVB filters.
DON’T buy sunglasses for kids without UV filters! I cannot stress this enough – if you only remember one of these facts, please make it this one! Sunglasses that don’t filter UV rays actually do more harm than good. When you wear sunnies, the tint makes your pupil dilate (bigger) because it is letting less light through to your eyes. If the sunnies don’t filter the UV rays, you are actually letting more damage in than you would without them!! I know it is so easy to just pick a cheap pair up for the kids as you walk up to checkout, especially when you are on holiday – they are everywhere! But please don’t be tempted!
DO think bigger is better! Yep, that’s right ladies, this is definitely one situation you can get away with this line! The bigger the sunnies, the more surface area around your eyes it covers. The skin around your eyes is quite thin, and therefore more susceptible to UV damage (i.e. crows feet). So if you are umming and arrrring about those glam sunnies that may seem a bit much, just remember, it’s not (just) for fashion, it’s for your health!
I do hope you enjoyed the post, and that this helps you make decisions when it comes to your own sun-care routines. I also hope you pass on the message about some of these facts! The more people that know the better! Let me know what you think in the comments below, I would love to hear from you 🙂
Until next time,