It is hard to believe with all the information we have in Australia that people still do not understand how to use sunscreens properly. Here are my top tips and myth busters.
Firstly the higher the protection does not necessarily mean better protection. The SPF factor is an equation regarding length of time of exposure , not degrees of protection. For example the average person of normal colour, can say that their skin will not begin to damage unprotected for 10mins ( damage not burn) so you can then multiply 10mins with the SPF factor and then tells you how much longer you have before your skin begins to damage. If you are pale then you can reduce your 10mins or if your darker you can add to your 10mins.
Applying two products with sunscreen does not multiply the sunscreen protection . If you apply a moisturiser with an SPF 30 and say a foundation with an SPF 15 you have a SPF of 30 not 45.
The secret is not necessarily to have higher protection, it is about correct application and reapplication. Sunscreens need to be applied more liberally than a normal moisturiser. Sunscreens also need to be applied 20minutes prior to sun exposure. A very common mistake is to apply sunscreen once you are in the sun . This means the skin is damaging and reaching burning point for those 20mins while the sunscreens activate. That then causes another problem, as your skin is now damaged , your normal skin time of 10mins is now dramatically reduced therefore your time in the sun needs to be reduced or re-applications to be done more frequently. This generally is the reason why people get confused as why they got burnt when they were wearing sun screens.
When re-applying sunscreens during long periods of exposure then the application needs to become more frequent. There are two key reasons: One, the skin is now compromised and no doubt some damage is happening so your 10min guide is no longer viable . Two, sunscreens need to be applied on a clean skin to be most effective. Once you have been in the sun for a while , it is probable that you have perspired and this compromises the sunscreen effectiveness .
Sun screens are not just about protection from burning and melanomas, it also important for prevention to reduce visible signs of ageing like pigmentation, lines and wrinkles. To improve the protection of the skin from this kind of damage, look for sunscreens that have high anti-oxidant levels as well. The UV rays trigger free radicals in the skin that cause lots of damage therefore combining sunscreens and antioxidants is your best protection.
For those of you who still like a little bit of a tan and do not want to fake it. Sunscreens do not inhibit melanin production just slows it. This means you will still get a tan with a sunscreen. It is ludicrous to be tanning without one, I do mean ludicrous! (scars from mole removal and/or melanoma are much uglier that pale skin) . The good news is when you do tan safely the tan builds slower, will last you longer into the cloudy months and the skin looks healthier.
Are you washing your sunscreen off at the end of the day? It is so important to remove the sunscreen from the skin so it does not cause negative conditions on the skin like congestion. Men and children in particular need to be careful as they don’t wash their faces at the end of the day as much as women do because of our skincare routine. I highly recommend teaching children to apply a sunscreen each morning and cleanse every evening, just like brushing their teeth! The younger they start, the better habits you have set up for life. What a great gift.
The sun is not the enemy, we need Vitamin D in our bodies. The number of people suffering from low Vitamin D are increasing. Vitamin D is responsible for strength. The sun also releases endorphins in the body and these hormones make you feel good, so the sun is a great de-stressor. It is all about being “SUN SMART”