Everyone feels better when the sun is shining. The day feels a lot brighter and a little vitamin D can give us all an extra boost of happiness. Although a little sunshine can leave a healthy glow on your skin, the sun can have a really damaging effect if we’re not protected. Skincare Specialist Natasha Swindell tackles some of your questions around SPF and why you should get into the habit of wearing this everyday.
SPF Q&A with Skincare Specialist Natasha Swindell
- Question: Do I have to wear SPF?
Whether you’re out and about, at work, in the car, or at home, SPF should be worn every single day. UVA which is responsible for ageing can penetrate through glass and clouds so it’s even more important to protect your skin at least 30 minutes before going outside. This allows the product to fully dry on your skin and offers the most effective protection. It’s important to re-apply every 1-2 hours if you are in the direct sunlight.
- Question: Do I need to wear SPF everyday?
Up to 40 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation reaches the earth on a completely cloudy day. This often results in premature ageing on the skin. There are two types of main radiation that affect our skin:
- UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis, the skin’s thickest layer. Unprotected exposure can lead to premature skin ageing along with lines and wrinkles developing. It’s also important to be aware that UVA rays are present during all daylight hours, and throughout the winter months.
- UVB rays will usually burn the superficial layers of your skin. UVB rays play a key role in the development of skin cancer.
- Question: Which factor should I use?
Skin can be classified under one of six phototypes under the Fitzpatrick scale. Harvard Dermatologist Thomas Fitzpatrick developed this test as a way to estimate the response of different types of skin to ultraviolet light. See below to check what factor you should be wearing for your skin type.
- Pale white skin – blue/green eyes, blonde/red hair, always burns = SPF30+
- Fair skin, blue eyes, burns easily & tans poorly = SPF30+
- Light brown skin, burns minimally & tans easily = SPF15+
- Brown skin, rarely burns and tans quite dark = SPF15+
- Dark brown or blakc skin, never burns and always tans quite dark = SPF15
- Question: Can I relay on the SPF in my skincare?
Many moisturisers and serums have a sunscreen already in them, and this is okay for everyday activities,with a few minutes here and there in the sun. Many however do not include UVA protection. For this reason, it’s always advised to use a separate SPF which includes both UVA and UVB protection.
- Question: What kind of SPF do I need?
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is simply an indication of how effective the product is at preventing sunburn. The bigger the number on your sun cream, the greater the protection, and the less likely you are to burn when using it. You need to look out for a product that includes both UVA and UVB protection. Ultraviolet light is the part of sunlight that reacts with living tissues and causes damage. When looking for an SPF, it’s important to consider the following:
- SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
- SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays
- SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays
- Question: How much do I need to use?
As a guide, aim to apply two teaspoons of sunscreen if you’re just covering your head, arms and neck. Aim for two tablespoons if you’re covering your entire body. If sunscreen is applied too thinly, the amount of protection it gives is reduced.
- Question: What are the benefits of wearing SPF every day?
If you want to protect yourself against skin cancers, pigmentation and premature ageing, using the correct SPF will help with all of the above. It’s never too late to start either. Protected skin will stay more youthful and will always be more noticeably healthier compared to friends and family, who have sunbathed or have used no protection for most of their lives.