Being Safe in the Sun
The sun is amazing... it makes plants grow, it makes people happy, it lowers our blood pressure BUT the radiation also has a negative impact on our skin and we need to protect ourselves, and enjoy the sun in the safest way possible.
I cannot extoll the benefits of sunscreen enough … one of the best things you can do for your skin is to find the perfect sunscreen for the type of skin you have; and wear it every day. It’s not easy to do this, and the choice can often be overwhelming, but once you know the right product for you – STICK with it. It just takes a minute every day #1MinSkin.
What are sunscreens?
Sunscreens prevent the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the skin. UVA radiation penetrates deeply in the skin and prematurely ages it, while UVB causes sunburn. Both types of radiation are a cause of skin cancer. We are fortunate now that there are hundreds of different formulations of sunscreens available to us, and everyone should be able to find a product that suits their unique skin type. Sunscreens vary in their ability to protect against UVA and UVB and visible light. No sunscreen, regardless of how strong it is, should be expected to stay effective longer than two hours, so you do need to reapply.
What to look for in a sunscreen?
· You should aim for a sunscreen containing an SPF50 – this block out 98% of UVB – but don’t worry if the only formula you like is in an SPF 30, as this is still excellent and blocks out 97% of UVB.
· It should also be effective against UVA – this is harder to determine but, in some products, it is recorded as a star system.
· Visible light block – this can be important for patients with melasma.
· A formula that suits your particular skin type – see below for my recommendations based on the type of skin you have.
Sunscreens are divided into:
Chemical & Physical Sunscreens
The ingredients studied—oxybenzone, avobenzone and octocrylene—are among the most widely used actives in chemical sunscreens, which work differently than physical or mineral sunscreens.
· Chemical sunscreens, such as oxybenzone, avobenzone and octocrylene, work by penetrating the skin and breaking down UV below the skin’s surface. These chemicals are absorbed by the body.
· Physical sunscreens like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide work by sitting on top of the skin and scattering and reflecting the UV and provide better sun protection from a broader UV wavelength. The downside to these is the white marks that some formulas can leave on skin.
Your ingredient preferences are a personal choice, but protecting your skin from the sun is most definitely a must.
Beautiful Sunny Days
The following are my top tips for enjoying the sun and protecting you and your family in the best way possible whilst on sunny holidays. I enjoy traveling with my family and, as a dermatologist, I always get asked what I do to keep safe in the sun if I love travelling so much. So... here are my top tips:
· Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 30 or greater 15 minutes before heading outside.
· You need to apply the correct amount – 1 teaspoon per average adult arm
· Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours (that is annoying but finding the correct formula makes it much more workable).
· Protect the top of your head and ears with a hat.
· On the beach for UPF 50 swimwear with long sleeves and high necks are ideal – and they look super sporty. For kids I think this is a MUST. John Lewis and Marks & Spencer’s always have beautiful long-sleeved versions of these swimsuits – the half-sleeved ones are just not as good.
· Sunglasses to shield the skin around your eyes and the eyes themselves. Just ask any ophthalmologist about the long-term damage to your eyes from not regularly wearing sunglasses!
· Avoid being in the sun during the peak hours when UV light is most intense, typically between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
· Shade is good and if on the beach make sure you have an umbrella
· Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on commonly missed areas prone to sunburn: Tops of your ears and bare feet, the part in your hair, the back of your neck, and the top of your hands.
· And don’t forget the lip balm
Check your other skin care products that you use in case they have ingredients in them that make you more sensitive to the radiation from the sun.
· Limonene and citrus oils, such as lemon, lime, grapefruit, and bergamot
· Lavender, rosemary and sandalwood oil
· Glycolic, lactic acids (AHAs)and retinol
· Benzoyl peroxide
My Favourite Sunscreens:
Face - Rosacea
Face - Acne
Face – Melasma
Face - Sensitive Eyes
Body - Altruist sunscreen (this product is the most affordable!)