But it’s not sunny where I live?
UVA and UVB : What’s the difference?
Present all day, everyday, UVA rays make up an astonishing 95% of the UV light that reaches the earth, and in turn, our skin. The number one cause of wrinkles, dark spots and leathery looking (and feeling) complexions, UVA rays can penetrate the skin deeper than their UVB counterparts, making them a leading contributor to skin cancers. You can check a product’s UVA protection rating by the number of stars indicated on it’s label, ranging from 0-5; the higher the better.
Important to note, as they penetrate the lower layers of the epidermis where they trigger the production of melanin, UVA rays are the cause of tanning but NOT burning, so their effects are initially undetected on the skin – even more reason to ensure that you are always protected against them.
To those that work inside and think that sun damage doesn’t apply to their day-to-day life, UVA rays can penetrate glass, meaning that sitting next to a window makes you just as vulnerable to them as lying in the park. Liberally apply sun protection everyday to protect yourself.
They may not be as ever-present at ultraviolet A rays, nor do they penetrate the skin as deeply, but UVB rays are to be taken seriously. Responsible for sore, hot-to-the-touch sunburn, which can lead to more common skin cancers, and visible changes to the skin’s textural surface, the SPF rating on your sunscreen relates to the protection it offers against ultraviolet B.
More prevalent in sunnier climes, UVB rays are also a greater risk at higher altitudes – which is why those that aren’t in the know often return from skiing holidays with notably sunburnt faces. It’s not a good look and the damage is avoidable, so pile on the SPF.
What does the SPF factor actually mean?
SPF translates to sun protection factor. This is the numerical value that indicates the level of protection to the epidermis – the outer layer of the skin - that your chosen product will give you against those pesky UVB rays.
A minimum of SPF 30 is recommended for daily use and, especially when you’re actively seeking sun, you should keep yourself topped up by reapplying regularly as indicated on the product label.
Although no sun protection can block all UV rays, SPF 50 blocks up to 98% of rays, with about a 1% difference between the 97% blocked by factor 30. We’re big believers that prevention is better than cure, so SPF is king when it comes to maintaining healthy, youthful skin.
What are CHEMICAL and PHYSICAL sun protection?
Now, the science-y bit. Chemical and physical based sun protection work in two differing ways to protect against damage by the way they interact with UV light, altering your ability to tan.
Chemical based sunscreens, also known as organic SPFs, absorb UV rays and alter them before sun damage has a chance to occur, but won’t prevent the production of melanin - meaning you will still catch some summer colour. They also tend to be thinner formulas, sitting better under everyday make-up. Ingredients to look out for in this category include oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone.
On the other hand, physical or mineral versions, sometimes called in-organic or sun-blocks, stay on the top of the skin and deflect UV rays on approach. They tend to be thicker formulations, sometimes leaving a white cast on the skin, and use mineral-based ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
I already get my SPF fix through my moisturser and foundation, do I REALLY need a separate product?
I already have SUPER oily skin; won’t adding a thick sun cream make my make-up slide straight off?
Don’t stress! Sun protection has come a long way since your childhood years. Firstly, the skin on your face is totally different to that on your body, so treat it that way by avoiding applying the exact same SPF everywhere. There are so many different types of SPF on the market that play well underneath make-up, from more traditional creams to light sprays.
Lots of high factor SPF tend to come in thicker formats, so if you have an oily complexion that’s prone to blemishes and breakouts, opting for an oil-free version is a great alternative. On the other hand, if your skin is dry, go for a cream, lotion or gel-based SPF, whilst seeking out options that are alcohol-free to help prevent further drying.
Through the development in our knowledge of SPF, skincare gurus across the land will agree that the needed effects come from a stand-alone product, and that the added SPF in your moisturiser, foundation or serum isn’t a reliable solution. This doesn’t stop them from being an excellent extra precaution; just make sure you have a high factor SPF only product in your daily routine too.
When in my routine should I apply my SPF?
As a rule, your SPF should be applied after your moisturiser, but before your make-up. However, this doesn’t mean that you should leave it there, as ideally, SPF should be reapplied throughout the day. Options like mineral powders and sprays are easy to apply lightweight choices to keep you topped up through your 9-5, but make sure your application is thorough and consistent, or if in doubt, return to your regular, reliable format.
So, your skin is protected, now you want a natural, radiant complexion to match. When you turn to exfoliating acids to help, like those found in our glow-inducing Radiance Ritual mask, your skin can become more susceptible to ultraviolet rays. For this reason, always be extra liberal with your SPF application afterwards.
Remember, the best skin is always healthy skin, so make sure sun protection is the step you NEVER skip.