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If you know anything about summer skincare and keeping your skin protected during the summer months, you will understand that SPF is hugely important. SPF stands for ‘sun protection factor’, and the number indicates how well a sun cream protects the skin from the sun’s harmful rays. SPF tends to range from 8 to 50, with the majority of products boasting figures of 20 or 30, and it can block out between 93% and 97% of the sun’s UV rays. Without SPF, sunburn and skin damage are likely.
UV rays can cause serious damage to the skin if not blocked by SPF. Painful and unsightly sunburn is caused by UV rays, as are a number of skin cancers. Plus, too much sun exposure can contribute to the signs of ageing. Most people will come across SPF when buying sun cream, but it can also be found in makeup products and moisturisers. To ensure your skin is properly protected from the sun, SPF is something that you need to be paying attention to.
The Do’s and Dont’s of Skin Protection in the Sun
It’s not simply a case of applying an SPF and hoping for the best, as this is unlikely to give you the level of protection you require. In order to get the most out of your suncare, you need to understand the ins and outs of SPF.
- DO Use Sun Cream or Moisturiser with an SPF of at Least 30 – Skin, both facial and elsewhere on the body, can be easily damaged if it’s not protected enough from the sun’s UV rays. This is why it’s important to wear sun cream, moisturiser or makeup with SPF whenever you are planning to spend prolonged time outside. However, not all SPFs are created equal. The higher the SPF, the more your skin will be protected. This is why SPF 30 is the minimum SPF that you should use. SPF 30 blocks your skin from around 97% of UVB rays, whereas SPF 15 only blocks your skin from around 93%. This may only seem like a small amount, but it’s a significant difference in terms of how well protected your skin is. Though sun creams with a lower SPF do offer some protection, it’s rarely enough to keep your skin safe from harmful rays.
- DON’T Use SPF That’s Out of Date – Like all beauty products and toiletries, sun cream does have an expiration date, and it’s not something that should be ignored. Before using any SPF, make sure the product is still in date and safe to use. Using expired SPF not only reduces the amount of sun protection, but it could actually be more damaging than not using any SPF. Expired SPF can lead to a greater risk of burns, skin irritations and acne. This is why you should make a note of when you first open and use an SPF product.
- DO Make Sure You’re Putting Enough Sun Cream On – A common mistake people make when applying sun cream is not using enough, thinking that a little goes a long way. However, this is not the case when it comes to applying SPF. You should apply at least a spoonful of sun cream to your face and ensure your face, neck and ears are adequately covered. If you don’t use enough SPF, you run the risk of missing areas of skin and leaving them without sun protection. If you find that the SPF you are using feels heavy and doesn’t completely ‘sink in’, you might need to swap to a lightweight option, but this does not mean lowering the SPF or compromising on the level of sun protection.
- DON’T Only Apply SPF Once a Day – As wearing SPF is the only effective way of protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, it should be part of your morning routine. This means applying it before you leave the house and begin your day. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also be applying SPF throughout the day. You should aim to top up your SPF every two hours, especially if you are continuously spending time in the sun. If you are swimming or sweating – or doing anything that could cause the SPF to come off of your skin sooner – you should apply SPF more often.
- DO Use SPF if You Use Vitamin C or Retinol – Having SPF as part of your daily skincare routine is important for anyone who wants to properly protect their skin from the sun, but it is especially important if you use retinol or vitamin C treatments. This is because both of these increase the photosensitivity of your skin, which means that skin becomes a lot more sensitive to the sun than it usually would be. Without adequate SPF, skin can become damaged with only a small amount of sun exposure.
- DON’T Choose the Wrong Type of Sun Cream – There is no shortage of sun cream brands and products on the market, most of which fall into two categories. There are chemical sun creams which work to filter out the sun and physical sun creams which physically protect the skin from the sun. Though chemical sun creams are effective, they can cause skin irritations and allergic reactions in some people due to the octinoxate and oxybenzone in the formula. If you notice a skin reaction to a specific product, it’s a sign that you are using the wrong type of sun cream. You could also be using the wrong type of sun cream if you are swimming or exercising, and you haven’t chosen a product that’s specifically marketed as being waterproof.
Protect Your Skin Using SPF
Regardless of whether you are sitting in the sun for an hour or two or you are spending the entire day outside, you should always wear SPF. Not only does SPF protect your skin from the sun, but it can help to combat the signs of sun damage and ageing. For more information on getting the most out of your sun care, speak to a specialist.