What is an SPF?
SPF or Sun Protection Factor is a measure of how well a sunscreen will protect the skin from UV rays. This kind of radiation causes sunburn, long term damage to the skin and skin cancer. A good broad spectrum sunscreen will protect your skin from multiple rays such as UVA, UVB, HEV (blue light), IR-A (red light) among many others, that are not visible with the human eye.
Types of exposure
The Sun emits UVA and UVB rays. Prolonged exposure to either of them is harmful for the body.
UVB rays are the burning rays that cause your skin to change colour or redden, more commonly known as sunburn to us. They can cause long term damage to the most outer layers of the skin. The risk for UVB- related sun damage is increasing due to thinning of the ozone layer. UVB rays tend to be more intense during the summer months and at high altitudes.
UVA rays penetrate further into the skin than UVB rays. They have the ability to penetrate glass and clouds and are the rays that cause skin cancer, photoaging, pigmentation, wrinkles, lines and age spots. They are present every day of the year during all hours of daylight.
HEV (blue light) is High Energy Visible light. This is the light emitted primarily from the sun but also from our devices, phones, laptops, tablets, photocopiers etc. This light has been known to cause aging related effects on the skin. Who knew our love for our phones could be ageing our skin!
IR-A (red light) is Infrared A, again generated from the sun penetrates into the deepest layers of the skin. It causes a rise in temperature in the skin and is not detected by the human eye. It causes premature aging in the skin, photodamage and excessive growth of blood vessels and weakening of the skin.
These rays are not only present when it’s super sunny. Even on those dark, gloomy, rainy days, hail, snow or sunshine these rays are still damaging our skin. They even manage to reach us while minding our own business indoors, at home! This is why it is so important to wear a broad spectrum SPF every day of the week!
Types of SPF
There are two types of SPF, chemical and physical. Physical SPFs are based on active mineral ingredients that reflect UVA and UVB rays away from the skin. Ingredients in these SPFs include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Physical SPF sits on the top of the skin acting as a barrier between you and the UV rays.
Chemical SPFs on the other hand work to change UV rays into heat that is then released from the skin. Chemical SPF is absorbed into the upper layer of the skin.
Some SPFs will use a combination of chemical and physical SPF protection, while other products may only use one or the other. Choosing the right SPF for you depends entirely on your skin. For our more sensitive clients out there we recommend a mineral SPF.
Can’t decide between 15, 30 or 50?
It can be hard to figure out which one is the best one for you! Why isn’t there just one standard SPF number to suit all? Unfortunately, no sun cream can block all UV rays, however the benefit of the SPF number is that it tells you how long the sun’s UVB radiation will take to redden your skin. The fact of the matter is that there is not a HUGE difference in protection between 15, 30 and 50, the higher the number the longer you are protected from UVB rays. Your protection will also depend on how much and how often you apply.
What we do know is SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays. The difference between a 30 and a 50 is really only about 1%. Our advice is to use at least an SPF 30.
It is important that you ensure that you are applying the right amount to the face and body and that it is regularly being reapplied throughout the day. It’s crucial to reapply sunscreen every 3 hours as it can get rubbed, washed or sweat off. One dot just ain’t enough! A FULL teaspoon for the face, neck and decolletage.
Choosing The Right SPF For You
Firstly it depends on what type of skin you have. If your skin is oily, dry, sensitive or mature will all depend on the texture and the finish of the SPF you choose.
A mineral SPF is always best for a sensitive client, a mineral or matte SPF for an oily or acne skin will be best as it does not clog pores or irritate the skin, for dry or mature skin a hydrating SPF or mineral will be ideal.
Your daily environment should also play a role in choosing the type of SPF you use. If your daily environment is based outdoors with direct sun exposure and change in the weather conditions, then a high level broad spectrum is a must everyday. If your daily environment is based indoors at a computer with blue light exposure, a broad spectrum SPF with additional HEV protection should be your daily go to SPF.
SPF in cosmetic products or makeup should be considered as a bonus to your daily skin protection, you must not mistake this for a full broad spectrum SPF.
This all may sound very complicated but the good news is that we stock over 10 cosmeceutical brands, each of which have at least one SPF in the range. That’s why we are here and always more than happy to help to choose the perfect SPF match for your skin and it’s needs!
Click HERE to check out some of our top selling SPF products!