Whilst there’s no denying that a certain amount of time in the sun is good for you (until you go red or burn), over-exposure to the sun is the number one culprit for causing most of the visible signs of ageing – UV rays enhance the breakdown of collagen which leads to wrinkles – hence the importance of a good sunscreen. But faced with an endless array of sunscreens on the shelves, ranging from bargain-basement options to the ridiculously expensive, the selection process has become increasingly difficult – hopefully this little guide will help you with your decision making…
Sunscreens work by helping to shield you from the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays in one of two ways; either by scattering the light and reflecting it away from your body or by absorbing the UV rays before they reach your skin.
UVB rays cause redness and burning whilst UVA rays cause premature ageing and skin cancer.
SPF stands for sun protection factor; it’s a measure of the amount of time you can spend in the sun before getting burned. If you would normally burn in ten minutes, SPF 15 multiplies that by a factor of 15, meaning you can go up to 150 minutes in the sun before burning.
Types of sunscreen include: chemical sunscreens which absorb the UV rays and rely on active ingredients such as octocrylene, benzophenone -3 and avobenzone, whilst physical sunscreens reflect the rays with minerals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that sit on top of the skin to provide protection.
For incidental sun exposure – when you’re only outside for a few minutes at a time – a SPF of 15 is usually sufficient; for extended, intense exposure, opt for a broad spectrum (meaning it effectively protects against significant portions of both the UVA and UVB ranges of the light spectrum), water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Make sure you apply enough sunscreen; you’ll need a tablespoon to cover your entire face (including your ears) and a shot glass–sized amount to cover the exposed areas of your body. Re-apply every two hours and immediately after swimming
I’m currently using Garnier Ambre Solaire with a SPF of 50 (paranoid much?!)…what are you using?