The media are continually telling us that our summers are getting hotter, and lasting a lot longer. So, if we believe what the weather experts are saying, we can expect it to carry on getting hotter and hotter each year, this is where Sun Care for the face is becoming more essential.
We as holidaymakers, and no doubt the tourist industry welcome long warm sunny days with prolonged periods of heat, but on the flip side the extreme weather can have serious implications to our well-being. Intense heat brings serious health issues; the air quality deteriorates leading to respiratory problems, heat stroke, and sunburn. The people most vulnerable are the young, elderly and those who have serious medical issues.
Another mistake many people make is thinking they only need to protect their skin in the summer months. Winter is just as dangerous to your facial skin, don’t be fooled into thinking that just because the sun isn’t beating down at 35’celcius, it isn’t inflicting damage. Clouds might shade you from direct sunlight, but it cannot stop harmful rays from reaching your delicate skin. You need to apply either sunscreen or a moisturizer with Sun Protection Factor (preferably SPF 30 or above) as part of your daily routine.
*I would urge Everyone to watch the following video, it’s only 3 minutes long, you will be very surprised at what you see!
The Dangers – UVA & UVB:
It is your face that is exposed to harmful sun rays more than any other part of your body. So, this is why sun care, for your face, is so important. The ‘deadly duo’ ready to attack sun worshipers are UVA & UVB rays. It is the UVB rays that have intense heat that causes the skin to burn.
People who are heading for their summer vacation seem more concerned about protecting themselves from UVB rays almost ignoring the sever implications from UVA rays. Sunbathers want to be able to stay out in the sun for hours on end and get a perfect golden suntan! They seem to think the only thing that matters is they buy a sunscreen with a high Sun Protection Factor, and they can lay on the beach from sun up to sun down!
Sunburn is the bodies way of alerting people they are getting UVB damage to their skin; if you keep getting sunburn on your face instance, this will lead to actinic keratosis of the skin. You will see dry, rough, scaly patches develop; these appear more often on the lips, ears, forehead, and scalp. It can become inflamed and red and could ultimately lead to skin cancer.
UVA rays have less energy than UVB rays but they do penetrate deeper into the skin and cause more serious skin cancers. UVA rays are a little sneaky as they cause damage to the skin without it getting sunburned. In particular drivers who cover long distances have to be very careful as UVA rays can penetrate glass and be shining of the drivers face for many hours causing untold amount of damage. UVA rays are what makes the skin go brown and with this comes dark facial spots, lines and aging to the skin and ultimately wrinkles.
SPF = Sun Protection Factor:
Sun Protection Factor is a measure of protection you get from UVB rays. The higher the factor number, the better protection you will get when sunscreen is applied to the face and body to try and protect your skin from sunburn. The most commonly used Sun Protection Factor number can range from 15 up to 50.
An SPF of 15 will block approximately 93% of UVB rays from your skin, SPF 30 will block 95%, and an SPF 50 will block 98% of UVB rays. The one flaw with these ratings is that all testing was done in a controlled manner, where the UVB rays that came into contact with the volunteers were consistent, in real life it’s not like that. If you go out in the sun at noon, you will be exposed to much stronger rays than in the early evening, say 5.00pm. So caution is strongly recommended, avoid the hottest part of the day and always listen to what your skin is trying to tell you! You will never get 100% protection from UV rays when you are in the sun!
Further Reading: Mineral Or Chemical Sunscreen – The Facts
*Look to the Stars!*
When purchasing your sun protection, as well as looking at the SPF you will also want to look for the number of stars* you will see on the bottle. It is a rating system that tells you how much protection you will get from UVA rays. The star ratings go from 0 up to 5; if you see a bottle with zero or 1 star, it is to be avoided at all cost. Ideally, you will be looking for a high Sun Protection Factor with five stars on your next bottle of sunscreen!
Important – Even on a cloudy day, when the sun is not shining or partially hidden behind clouds, UVA rays are still there, they penetrate the clouds causing skin damage, it is essential to apply sunscreen to your face on a cloudy day.
PA rating System:
You may also see the PA rating system telling you how much protection you get against UVA rays. It is a system the Japanese tend to use on their sunscreen products, although we mostly see the stars system now it’s worth knowing just in case you see it on a sunscreen bottle.
PA+ means Low Protection, PA++ Moderate Protection, PA+++ High Protection.
Another way you might see your sunscreen labeled is with the words ‘Broad Spectrum’ It will have an SPF rating on it, and basically it’s telling you that it also has ingredients in it that protect you from UVA rays as well. It will have at least one of the following active ingredients in it to protect you from UVA rays: zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone, Mexoryl SX (ecamsule) or TinosorbConclusion.
Enjoy the Sun – Safely!
Important things to remember when buying your sunscreen are your skin type and skin colour. Pale, sensitive skin will burn a lot quicker than say someone with an olive complexion. Don’t think that if you buy a sunscreen with a high Sun Protection Factor, it will mean that after two weeks on holiday you will still be going home looking pale, you will get that vital suntan but in a safer more controlled manner.
Buying the most expensive sunscreen doesn’t automatically mean you are getting the best sun care for the face, buying an expensive brand and using it sparingly because you are trying to make it last is a surefire way to getting sunburned! Some other important things to remember about sunscreen protection:
- Apply at least 15 minutes before going out in the sun
- Apply Liberally and remember to reapply every 2-3 hours
- Water resistant means it will last approx’ 40 minutes when you are wet
- Wear a hat and UV rated sunglasses, these will also protect delicate skin around the eyes
- Avoid the sun when it’s at it hottest
- Wear sunscreen all year round!
- Remember to rehydrate your skin after sunbathing
Which rating system do you follow when buying sunscreen for your face? Please leave any comments or questions below, and I will be happy to discuss them with you.