As the Spring weather continues to creep towards Summer and the need for most of us to stay home more than ever becomes an essential new way of life, more and more of us will turn to the solitude of our gardens (if we’re lucky enough to have one). We all know it’s important to take care of our skin, particularly in the summer when sun damage is a high risk, but what about the rest of the year? And many of us know to look for high SPF lotions. But what is SPF, and why is it a skincare essential?
What is SPF?
Put simply, SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It measures the level of protection a product will give your skin from UVB rays. The sun emits two different types of ultraviolet radiation: UVA and UVB. UVA penetrates deep into the skin, while UVB rays are shorter, burning the surface (the epidermis).
The British Association of Dermatologists recommend always using a minimum of SPF 30, which blocks 97% of UVB rays. To put that into context, SPF 15 blocks 93% and SPF 50 blocks 98%.
What damage does UV cause?
Sun damage shows itself in the form of dullness, uneven pigmentation, rosacea and loss of firmness of the skin. “Ultraviolet rays from the sun are tremendously harmful to the skin and causes more than 90% of the visible signs of ageing” confirms Dr Rekha Tailor, “This includes wrinkles, lines and discolouration.” In terms of the layers of your skin, you have: the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. The epidermis is the outer layer of skin that is exposed to outside elements. External factors like UVA rays can penetrate the epidermis and damage the dermis. This is usually when premature ageing occurs as it impacts collagen which is essential for plump, youthful skin
Does it have to be sunny to need SPF?
SPF has long been associated with the summer when in fact the sun can still penetrate through clouds on those cold, grey days that we see far too often in the UK. In fact, 80% of the sun’s rays can penetrate through clouds. Your skin is therefore constantly exposed to damaging sun rays, even when you are sat in an office or at home. Shockingly UV rays (mainly UVA) can still damage your skin if you are sat directly in front of a window.
My skin is sun damaged, what are the risks?
When UV rays have damaged your skin, it alters the DNA in your skin cells. UVA rays that penetrate deeper into your skin can cause damage that’s difficult to reverse. Alongside discolouration, pigmentation and wrinkles, damage to the cells can also contribute to the development of skin cancers. Both UVA and UVB rays can increase the risk of serious skin diseases.
How can I protect my skin from sun damage?
- Get to know your skin. Everyone’s skin reacts differently to sun exposure. Getting to know how your own skin reacts will help you understand how to best protect it and spot anything unusual.
- Choose an SPF level that works for your skin type. If you have hypersensitive skin or rosacea then protecting your skin with a higher SPF product is absolutely vital.
- Make it part of your routine. Everyone has a daily routine. Make sure your SPF product is part of it. That way whether you are outdoors, indoors, sat in the sun or sheltered from the rain, your skin is still protected!
- Protect all of your skin. In addition to your face, the neck area, hands and lips are constantly exposed to UV rays, and it’s important to protect them from signs of ageing too.
- Reapply every 2 hours. You must ensure you reapply SPF every two hours, to ensure you achieve the maximum protection. “Even if you are wearing makeup you still need to re-apply every two hours.” says Dr Rekha Tailor. “It also needs to be applied correctly to be effective, so make sure you’re using a decent amount.”
How can I reverse the signs of sun damage?
At Health & Aesthetics we offer a range of therapies and treatments that can not only help reduce the signs of sun damage and premature aging, but also reverse them, leaving you with more youthful radiant skin.
- Lasers. From the IPL Harmony laser, a treatment specifically designed to target sun damage, brown spots, age spots, freckles, thread veins, redness and fine lines, to the iPixel and CO2 lasers to completely resurface the skin for those with deeper pigmentation.
- ZO Skin Health products. By using hydroquinone products (ZO Skin Health Pigment Control and Blending Creme and Pigment Control Creme) or retinol based products (ZO Skin Health Skin Brightener 0.25%, 0.5% or 1%) alongside other ZO Skin Health products, the deep pigmentation can be effectively treated and reverses the ageing effects of sun damage and pigmentation.
- HydraFacials. HydraFacials help to cleanse, extract and hydrate the skin and is a fantastic treatment for those looking to address a range of issues such as acne, rosacea, lines and wrinkles, pigmentation and a host of other skin issues.
- Peels. A chemical peel works by gently removing a controlled amount of the skin’s outer layers, including the dead cells on the surface which promotes regeneration and repair.