Everything You Need To Know About SPF

These days we’re all well aware that sun protection is a non-negotiable within our skincare routines. We’re educated on a surface level of the damage it can cause – skin cancer, pigmentation, burns and scarring as well as premature ageing of the skin through fine lines. But there still maintains several questions around the topic of SPF. How often should we wear it? How much should we wear? Is wearing products that contain SPF enough protection?

Here, we’re demystifying the SPF skincare solutions.

Why do we need to wear SPF?

Sunlight is made up of multiple different wavelengths of light with UVA and UVB being the most damaging. UVA is responsible for causing sunburn and exists as a shorter wavelength that doesn’t penetrate as deeply as UVA rays. UVA rays, however, are thought to be responsible for issues connected to premature skin ageing. Pigmentation from sun damage occurs when UV rays accelerate the production of melanin within the skin. It can also cause broken capillaries which damages the skin’s collagen, causing a loss of elasticity, sagging skin, wrinkles and burning that can lead to scarring.

When should we wear SPF?

Put simply, every day. SPF is singularly one of the most important factors in keeping your skin healthy and should be considered a major part of your skincare routine.

Applying SPF is often associated with summer holidays and admittedly, it may not feel as much of a priority when living in the UK where clouds, wind and rain are much more prominent climate struggles than the sunshine of places like the Bahamas. In reality, we should be wearing SPF every day whether that’s on holiday, soaking up the sun or in the middle of winter heading into the office. Approximately 80% of UV rays penetrate cloud cover which means a lack of sunshine isn’t an excuse not to wear SPF and even though there is very little UVB radiation in the Winter, UVA rays are still present.

The British Association of Dermatologists reports that over 100,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually within the UK with extensive sun exposure thought to be responsible for the vast majority of these cases. It’s estimated that up to 80% of skin care cases can be prevented, proving all the more reason to reach for the sunscreen.

Is wearing moisturiser or foundation with SPF enough protection?

Research from the British Association of Dermatologists found that although moisturisers with SPF provide sun protection, it’s to a lesser degree than that provided by sunscreen. Although this is a better solution than nothing, it’s not suitable for prolonged periods in the sun. Most dermatologists recommend you invest in separate SPF to apply over your moisturiser or makeup. Instead, makeup containing SPF should be thought of as a second line of defence instead of a replacement for sunscreen which ideally should have both UVA and UVB protection.

In terms of coverage, it’s recommended by dermatologists that we use SPF 30 as a satisfactory form of sun protection in addition to protective shade and clothing.

Niamh Crawford-Walker

Niamh is a full time fashion and features writer at The Style Edit. Her work has previously appeared in IMAGE magazine, image.ie and Emirates Woman.

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