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SPF: why our skin needs it

For me, SPF should be at the forefront of our minds when it comes to skincare. However, it’s often overlooked. Sometimes, people feel that understanding SPF can be challenging, but it doesn’t need to be. Simply put, it’s an essential product to ensure we have great skin. 

Since my children were very young, I’ve ensured they’re topped up with SPF every time they’re in the sun, and I will continue to do so. The same goes for me, and I recommend all my clients do the same. No matter our age, our skin is not immune to sun damage.

Understanding sun damage 

There are two major concerns from being in the sun; skin ageing and in more severe cases, skin cancer. UV light causes us to burn, ultimately damaging our skin by harming our cellular DNA. 

UVA rays (long-wave) can cause ageing while UVB (short-wave) causes burning, which of course leads to discomfort, an uneven complexion and peeling skin. 

If you’ve noticed pigmentation or age spots on your skin, it’s highly likely they’re a result of tanning in your early years opposed to your most recent holiday in the sun. Sun damage doesn’t appear right away, which is why we need to protect ourselves, ALWAYS. 

Physical vs Chemical SPF 

Physical SPF, which is sometimes referred to as natural SPF, works to reflect UV light, blocking it from reaching your skin cells and causing damage. 

Chemical SPF penetrates your skin to protect it as it absorbs the light. Your body then metabolises the sun’s rays into non-damaging wavelengths of light and heat. 

Important SPF considerations 

While it’s great that you’re applying SPF regularly and protecting your skin, there are a couple of things you need to consider beforehand. 

  • Check for an expiration date; if your SPF doesn’t have one, you should presume that it will be good for one year and replace accordingly. 
  • Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen; use an SPF that protects you from both UVA and UVB rays so you can ensure you’re as protected as possible. 
  • Use SPF 30 or above; I like to use a factor 50 on my face, and a factor 30 or above on my body. 
  • Don’t presume that a higher SPF protects you for longer; if you’ve applied factor 50 SPF and you think you’re done for the day, you’re wrong. It would be best if you reapplied regularly. Stay protected! 

SPF myths 

  • SPF accumulates; no, adding an SPF 15 moisturiser with an SPF 30 foundation doesn’t mean your protection becomes 45. The highest protection comes from the SPF 30; you can’t add them up. 
  • Sunscreens can be waterproof; nope. Some sunscreens might be water-resistant, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be reapplying after going in the water. 
  • SPF 50 is twice as effective as 25; simply not true. That’s not how SPF protection works, instead, the number refers to chemicals. 
  • Darker skin doesn’t require SPF; no one is immune to sun damage. While darker skin tones may not be as vulnerable to UV light, you still need protection. 

No matter the time of year, I always try to encourage my clients to use a dedicated, standalone SPF product. While it’s great that we can get protection from our moisturisers, foundations and primers, a dedicated product is more effective when it comes to limiting the effects of sun exposure and preventing sun damage. 

While some of us can fall into the trap into investing in super-expensive anti-ageing products, sometimes our skin is just crying out for a decent SPF. So, please don’t overlook the power of SPF. 

I love the sun! And I encourage you to enjoy it; it has many positive effects on both our skin and our minds. Just remember how important it is to protect ourselves, even when we’re not in direct sunlight. If you want to learn more, follow my Instagram here

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