Hair & Beauty Magazine

Sunburn Prevention: Have You Got the SPF Factor?

By Mohamedmedo
Sunburn prevention: Have you got the SPF factor?
Water-resistant sunscreens
It was Noël Coward who famously wrote of mad dogs and Englishmen out in the midday sun. However, Britain’s continuing love affair with those golden rays has had a serious effect on the nation’s health.More than 70 years after the first sunscreen was developed by chemist Franz Greiter, many of us still aren’t wearing adequate protection and are confused by conflicting advice.When the government recently said SPF15 was fine for daily protection in Britain, many experts begged to differ.‘There’s more confusion about sun protection than anything else,’ says Dr Nick Lowe, consultant dermatologist at London’s Cranley Clinic and founder of Dr Nick Lowe skincare.‘In Britain, daily use of an SPF15 product is exactly what most people need. However, it must have UVA protection. Additionally, if you’re pale-skinned and going outdoors in the summer or while overseas, use SPF30 with UVA protection, and further protect yourself with clothing – especially between 10am and 3pm.’Sun scienceHarmful rays can be divided into two groups: UVB rays, which cause sunburn and skin cancer, and UVA rays, which are present all year round and cause premature aging by damaging the skin’s collagen and elastin support structures.SPF can be as little as five or as high as 100. Theoretically, SPF15 allows you to spend 15 times longer in the sun than you would without protection. So if you burn after ten minutes, SPF15 lets you spend ten x 15 minutes in the sun – 150 minutes.Dr Nick LoweConsultant dermatologist Dr Nick LoweWhile higher SPFs such as 30 can be useful in intense sunlight, once you get above SPF50, there’s little difference. SPF30 offers just four per cent more protection than SPF15, which protects skin from 93 per cent of harmful rays. Protection can only ever go up to around 98 per cent.Indeed, it’s often the way we apply sunscreen that causes harm. Studies show that many people apply such small amounts that protection is severely reduced. ‘Keep it simple,’ says Dr Lowe. ‘Use one teaspoonful each on the face, neck and backs of hands; one level tablespoon for the front of the body, back, each of your legs and each arm. Let sunscreen dry before putting on make-up. If you’re a man, shave beforehand. If you’ve washed your face or you’ve been swimming or sweating, reapply.’Despite recent concerns that a fear of harmful rays could see a resurgence of Victorian diseases associated with vitamin D deficiency, such as rickets, in reality, there are easier ways to maintain vitamin D than soaking up the rays. ‘The easiest option is to protect your skin during periods of exposure and take a vitamin D supplement,’ says Dr Lowe. ‘There’s evidence that vitamin D supplements will increase your vitamin D levels more efficiently than getting 15 minutes of sun.’Make-upJemma KiddJemma Kidd: Don't rely on make-up for sun protection (Pic: Getty)These days, most types of make-up are available with added SPF. However, this can be a double-edged sword – when did you last apply foundation to your ears or neck? ‘Most people apply make-up sparingly, so I would never rely on it alone for sun protection,’ warns make-up artist Jemma Kidd. ‘Always combine your foundation with a lightweight SPF moisturiser.’Material mattersIt’s not just sunscreen that can offer protection – several brands now offer clothing designed to protect skin from harmful rays. While a normal T-shirt offers around the same protection as SPF5 sunscreen, these garments offer significantly more. Coolibar clothing, blocks 98 per cent of UV rays and offers a UVF (SPF is used for sunscreens, UVF for clothing) of 50, allowing only 1/50th of the radiation to penetrate. Uniqlo is the latest brand to jump on the bandwagon, with a range called UV Cut that helps to protect the skin from harmful rays. While such items of clothing are an extra line of defence, use them alongside sunscreen.‘What’s important to remember is that clothing should be used in conjunction with sunscreen,’ says Bevis Man, communications and press officer at the British Skin Foundation. ‘There will always be areas of the body that clothing doesn’t cover – such as hands – that you’ll need to make a conscious effort to protect.’Protection in a pillThese days, there’s a pill for everything, and supplements which protect us from sun damage are increasing in popularity. Many of these work by boosting the body’s own defense systems. AstaSUN, which contains astaxanthin – a carotenoid that absorbs UV rays – is one example. ‘This works with the body’s own protection mechanism to protect against sun damage,’ says Jenny Baillie, a health foods supplements expert. Another to watch out for is Pteromax. It contains polyphenols, which have been shown to limit skin damage from sun exposure via antioxidant action.However, as with UVF clothes, remember that supplements should be used alongside sunscreen. Sun safety: Useful tips Remember: Always use a sunscreen that’s EU-compliant and marked with a UVA logo.Avoid sunscreens that contain benzophenone, oxybenzone and PABAs – these ingredients can irritate skin.Burnt skin takes ten to 14 days to recover, so it’s especially important to cover up the affected area.Keep sunscreen in a cool place to prevent deterioration.Do not use any sunscreen that is more than two years old.Shake your sunscreen before appliying it in order to mix particles that may have become stuck together within the bottle.Apply sunscreen ten minutes before exposure. This will allow it to sink in and make it more resistant to sweat.

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