Monday, 16 June 2014

Sun Protection 101

(all credit to Pinterest)

The sun is exactly the same sun, whether you live in England, Africa, China or goodness knows where, so it's dangerous to assume that the only sun you need to protect yourself from is "holiday sun". Exactly the same harmful UV rays are emitted wherever you are and whatever time of the year - whenever you are exposing your skin to the sun, you're are damaging it in an irreversible way (age spots, leathery skin, come on, you know the drill by now). Of course, the main issue when it comes to skin protection is not so much an everyday problem, although you should be wearing suncream daily - yeseven in the winter - but when summer eventually does comes along and we binge in the sun for hours on end. 

UV rays emitted from the sun penetrate deep into you skin and damage cells, whether it's cloudy, hot or even freezing cold - if you can see the sun, it's happening. In fact, the only reason we tan, is because our cells are screaming "Help me, I need protection!" UV rays produce a pigment in our skin called Melanin, which acts as our natural sunscreen, but relying on it alone is the equivalent to wearing an SPF of 3 - 15, depending on your skin tone. There are 3 different types of UV rays, most commonly known UVA and UVB, and then UVC which is not a problem at the moment because the ozone layer completely blocks it. UVA rays cause ageing and skin cancer and are prevalent all year round, whereas UVB rays are what cause you to burn, but are also prevalent all year round - so remember, UVA- Ageing, UVB - Burning. Too much exposure to these UV rays can increase your chance of skin cancer, especially among the paler, light-haired and freckly of us species. 

In 2011, around 13,300 people were diagnosed with a skin cancer called Malignant Melanoma, and out of those people, around 11,100 cases were linked to excessive exposure to sunlight and use of sun-beds. 

However, protecting yourself from the sun - and not just "holiday sun" - is easy. Always wear suncream and avoid the sun during the hottest parts of the day 12pm-4pm (which I know isn't fun, but neither is skin cancer, or a nasty sunburn) or at least seek shade. When looking for suncreams, I always recommend buying one with an SPF of 30, which blocks out 97% of UVB rays. There isn't a great need to purchase a SPF of 50 because it only blocks out 98% of UVB rays, and the thick consistency means that you are probably less likely to reapply. Always buy a cream rather than a spray, because it hasn't been proven yet how effective skin is with absorbing these sprays, and look for keywords on the back of the product such as 'photostable' and 'water-resistant'. Lastly, always make sure the product is both a UVB and UVA protectant to help defend your skin against premature ageing and skin cancer. Here's a great site for applying suncream correctly.

My recommendations

P20, Around £20 + Boots

La Roche-Posay, £14.50 Boots

With the summer holidays fast approaching for many of you (38 days and counting until I jet-off) I hope you found this useful. But remember, the sun is there constantly, so protecting yourself should be an everyday process. Slip into you skincare a facial moisturiser with an SPF and delay those wrinkles *fist bump*.

Until next time, 

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