Last week we talked about the history of SPF and why it’s so important. (Catch up here!) This week, we turn from theory to practice as we outline how you should use it, other ways to help protect you from the sun and what to do if your skin has already been damaged.
Who needs to wear it?
Absolutely everyone – even if you don’t burn easily. Yes, the fairer among you may be more at risk, but skin conditions – ranging from mild to severe – can affect anyone, no matter the skin tone. It’s important to note that everyone has their own cooking time, which is the SPF you’re using x the length of time it takes for you to burn. After this, your cells are still being damaged, even if you’re no longer burning.
How should you use it?
First things first, you must check the expiration date. Like everything else, the effectiveness of the product will deteriorate after this time. Most sunscreens have a shelf life of two to three years.
It’s also advisable to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure (as well as a significant top-up just before you venture out), so that the SPF has time to bind to the skin efficiently. Also, be generous with your application – the thicker the better – and reapply every two hours at the minimum – more if you’ve been swimming or sweating. Always check the bottle as some sunscreens are water-resistant, so will fare better under these conditions. While we’re on the subject, you should also look for the words ‘broad spectrum’ as this means it offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
A quick note on SPF moisturisers or other cosmetic products, such as SPF face creams, lip balms or powders: While these will provide some protection against the sun, they’re probably not going to be as resistant as a proper sunscreen, not to mention the fact that they almost certainly will not be applied as thickly, nor will they contain protection against UVA rays. So, will they be suitable if you’re just popping outside for a few minutes? Absolutely. A day at the beach? Certainly not.
What else should you do to protect your skin from the sun?
- Wear protective clothing. Keep in mind that some garments, such as thin, light-coloured items, carry less UV protection than others. Hats are always a good idea, too – as are sunglasses.
- Throw shade. At the sun, that is. While you’ll still need to wear SPF, sitting under an umbrella or shady spot will offer more protection – especially during the hottest times of the day.
- Take extra care while swimming. It might seem as if you’re not getting burned, but actually the opposite is happening, due to the reflective nature of the water.
- Be aware of medicinal side effects. Some medicines may make you more sensitive to the sun, such as some antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and antifungals.
- Stay away from sunbeds. And sun lamps. And tanning salons (you get the point) as believe it or not, these actually contain more intense forms of UV radiation than natural sunlight.
- Limit sun exposure. Don’t be a slave to the sun – it will give you very little back in return.
What should you do if your skin has been damaged by the sun?
While you should always do everything you can to avoid sun damage, there are various treatments – proudly provided by us – that can help reverse the ill-effects:
- IPL. Whether it’s pigmentation or visible capillaries that the sun has negatively caused, IPL – or intense pulsed light – is a great treatment option. Using light energy, which converts into heat, a whole host of unwanted marks on the skin will be cleared in a broad yet targeted fashion. Quick, easy, non-invasive and non-ablative. Read more here.
- Microneedling. Is there anything the Dermapen can’t do? A minimally invasive cosmetic procedure, tiny pinpricks help coax the skin into shedding old skin and generating a new, fresher layer. It’s often used for anti-aging, also helping to reverse the negative effects of skin damage.
We’re not suggesting for one second that you barricade yourselves indoors and never step foot in the sun again; it is, after all, vital in helping us produce Vitamin D, which carries a whole host of health benefits, such as helping the body to absorb calcium for stronger bones. But do be sensible with SPF and make sure you always choose the best sunscreen – your body, from top to toe, will thank you for it.