You’ve just finished your facial appointment and you're feeling ultra zen. You see that delicious smelling, hydrating mask from your treatment. It’s perched up on the retail shelves, practically begging you to take it home... And then your skin therapist hands over your skin prescription putting a massive emphasis on sunscreen and how it’s the most important step in your skincare routine & there’s no point investing in other products if you don’t use SPF daily, etc, etc...how beige!
Ever wondered why us skin therapists bang on about wearing sunscreen all day, every day? Yes, we know that we should wear it as it protects us from skin cancer and prevents us from turning into a tomato when we’re out in the sun. But how does it work and how should we apply it?
Why is Sunscreen so important?
It helps to shield your skin against harmful UVA & UVB rays. Exposure to UV rays can cause free radical damage to your cells, slowly destroying them over time and is the leading cause of skin cancer.
Did you know Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world? Sadly two in three Aussies are diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70 :( The sun packs a punch here!
The most comprehensive study of cancer prevention in Australia estimated that, in 2010, more than 1700 cases of melanoma & 14,190 non-melanoma skin cancers were prevented by long-term sunscreen use. It really pays to slip slop slap!
What are UVA and UVB rays?
UV rays are a part of a light wavelength.
Think of UVB as UV-Burning, as it’s the wavelength that burns and leads to skin cancer. UVB is a fiery ray, thrives in Summer and loves to hold onto heat. This is the heat you feel just before you realise you’ve turned into a tomato (oops!). Although its nature is hot, it’s a much shorter wavelength than its counterpart UVA, and travels to the epidermal (outer) layer of your skin.
Think of UVA as UV-Ageing, as it’s the sneaky, silent assassin wavelength that makes us age without us even knowing (how rude!). UVA doesn’t hold any heat or leave any burn, so you can’t feel or see it on your skin. It's a powerful wavelength travelling all the way to the dermis layer of your skin & shows up to the party rain, hail or shine. What's UVA's business penetrating deep into our cells? It likes to break down our collagen & elastin. Why? Because it's jealous of our youth!!
UV rays are at their highest form between 10am – 2pm, however this can change from day to day. It pays to check, so we recommend downloading a weather app or asking old mate google to give you the 411.
How does Sunscreen work?
You may have heard the words physical and chemical pop up from time to time when speaking of sunscreen. So what’s the difference? And which sunscreen is best for you? These are the two main forms of SPF.
Physical sunscreen – Generally made from minerals zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These sit on the surface of your skin creating a shield to reflect UV rays away from your skin. They can feel a bit thick or heavy on the skin, but they are perfect for all skin types, especially sensitive skin. Our favourites are Image Prevention+ Daily Hydrating Moisturizer & Synergie Uberzinc. If you're after a bit of colour to even out your skin tone try Prevention + Daily Tinted Moisturiser or for full makeup coverage try Synergie Mineral Whip Foundation (We love this as it’s a 2 in 1 product, giving you a no makeup flawless look).
Chemical sunscreen – These contain multiple active ingredients that absorb the UV rays like a sponge before they can penetrate your dermis and cause damage. It generally has a lightweight feel and doesn’t feel as thick on the skin as physical sunscreen. Our go-to chemical SPF for the ultimate protection is Image Ultimate Prevention 50+ or if you're more on the oily side and suffer from acne we recommend Prevention + Daily Matte Moisturiser.
The best part about all these SPF's is that they double as your daily moisturiser (apart from the Mineral Whip Foundation).
When should you apply?
Once you’ve found a sunscreen that works for you, make sure to apply daily, even if you’re working from home or inside all day (UV rays are present indoors thanks to windows). If you’re spending lots of time outdoors make sure to reapply your sunscreen EVERY 2 hours.
Our final take
SPF is a necessity and should be included in your daily ritual along with showering, brushing your teeth and making your bed ;).
For everyday protection we’d favour a physical base sunscreen as we know it’s safest for even the most sensitive of skins. If you’re participating in outdoor activities like exercise, swimming, lazing by the beach/pool, enjoying a cocktail or 3 at a rooftop bar or picnicking at a park, a chemical based sunscreen will give you that little bit more of added protection. And as annoying as it is, always remember to reapply after 2 hours... Because we all know what happens if you forget!