Sun protection - what you need to know!

If there is one thing I am really fussy about, it is applying my sun protection, not only in Spring and Summer but Autumn and Winter too.  It saddens me to think that many of us to do not wear a daily sun protection.  

The risk of skin cancer, which has quadrupled since the 70s, is caused by both UVA, and UVB rays. UVA forms 99% of the sun's rays and are the AGING rays which can lead to loss of elasticity, wrinkles, age spots etc. Even though UVB is less intense in winter the UVA rays still get through through.  Do not make the mistake of thinking your car windscreen will protect you, it won't. Also you cannot rely on an SPF in your moisturiser or make up, unless you apply your make up thickly: you need sun protection as well.  Make sure you use a SPF of at least 30 which offers 97% protection against UVB and  also make sure your sunscreen has 5 star protection against UVA. In general, the fairer your skin the higher the SPF you need.

How much sunscreen?  The recommendation is a shot glass (about 50ml) for your body and half a teaspoon for your face and neck, although I think I probably use more than this on my face. My daughter finds she need to put plenty on her d├ęcolletage to avoid burning. In other words everyone is different. You may want to expose your arms for around 15 minutes without sun protection to get your daily vitamin D but I would still cover any moles/freckles. 

So which sun protection is best?  There are two types of sun protection, physical and chemical. Below, I outline the differences between them which will help you decide which to use:-

  • Physical sun protection works by blocking the sun's rays using ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, chemical sun protection absorbs the sun's rays using a variety of ingredients.
  • Physical sun protection is more natural and is effective from the moment you apply it. Chemical sun protection needs to be applied 30 minutes before exposure to the sun and needs to be applied more frequently, around every two hours.  
  • Chemical sunscreens have been suspected of causing hormone disruption although this is controversial.  It is also thought that they may be unstable when exposed to UV light, generating free radicals which can cause skin damage or skin allergies. I find that even though I try to avoid applying it near my eyes, it seems to 'melt' into my eyes causing stinging. If you do choose a physical sunscreen avoid ones that contain nanoparticles which are also suspect.  Some people do not like the white film physical sun protection leaves on your skin.  Some people also find that physical sunscreen can cause breakouts.  You could try one that contains zinc oxide only.

Overall I would say a physical sunsreen is best but I would rather that you wore some sunscreen, whether it be physical or chemical, than none.

Enjoy the sun but stay safe
Janet x

Article Copyright © 2015 40plusandalliswell

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