The Importance of SPF

When I was a little lost for blog inspiration last week I asked my lovely colleagues what they would like to read about and the importance of SPF was suggested. Now – I’ll hold my hands up – I didn’t know a right lot about it so I decided to do a bit of research, broaden my horizons and add some knowledge into my ever expanding encyclopedia of beauty knowledge.

So we all know that we need to wear suncream if we insist on sunbathing and in fact not sitting in the sun at all is best for us but that will rarely happen because we are a vain sort of bunch – so we know that we need to wear a suncream that has an SPF in it and the hotter the place we are going, the stronger the suncream needs to be. Right ? Anyone know anymore – well I’m sure a lot of you do but I don’t – here is a gift from me to you !

Did you know?…

  • Women in their twenties and thirties are known to brush off the dangers of sun exposure because they believe the damage is already done. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation the truth is you get only 23 percent of your lifetime sun exposure by the time you’re 18; you accumulate about 47 percent from ages 19-40, more than any other time in you life. This is why wearing daily protection is so critical!
  • SPF measures only the protection you get from UVB rays, not UVA , and many moisturisers don’t have enough ingredients to adequately block UVA rays, Dr. Friedman says (Glamour magazine, June 2011). The average moisturizers with SPF 15 to 50  don’t actually shield against UVA. This is why you should apply a separate sunscreen to your morning skin ritual, or make sure your moisturizer contains either zinc oxide or a combination of avobenzone and octocrylene.
  • Experts recommend you should apply two tablespoons of sunscreen to your entire body and reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
  • UVB is completely blocked by windows however UVA penetrates them. You can accumulate exposure just by sitting in an office with a window or driving your car. (The average window allows 63 percent of UVA rays to pass through.) Another reason to apply SPF 15+ to your daily skincare routine year round.

Back in the day – well a few years ago, facial sunscreens were considered to work well but leave the skin looking a little worse for wear – greasy, spotty, stinging, often peeling with tiny balls of product as the sunblock reacted against makeup – etc. You’ll be pleased to hear that in 2013 it is a different story. they are finer, smoother, gentler and more like a skincare treat than unpleasant medicine. Broad-spectrum sunscreens (protecting against both UVB and UVA) stop you looking like an overcooked idiot Brit abroad and help protect against lethal skin cancers. According to Sali Hughes, a Beauty expert for the Guardian « Any excuses for not wearing one are lame, outmoded and the beauty equivalent of some pillock refusing to wear a condom because “it doesn’t feel the same”. Enough said.

Its no secret SPF is essential during the summer months. But did you know it’s equally important during the wintertime? Oh, what’s that? You work inside all day so you don’t need sunscreen? Not so fast; it’s important for you too!  UV rays are just as harmful during the winter as they are in the summertime… even if you spend your days working indoors, hidden from the sunshine. UVA rays penetrate window glass, which means you are exposed during your commute and if your office is filled with natural light. UV rays are especially harmful in snowy conditions since rays are strengthened due to the reflective nature of snow. The same goes for cloudy days. So lather up – and don’t think this is just for ladies either!

All of these forms of exposure contribute to something called “photoaging.” Photoaging is a process of aging caused by UVA and UVB exposure. Major symptoms of photoaging include spider veins on the face or neck, loss of color and fullness in lips and wrinkle formations on the face, neck, ears, hands or chest. No thank you! (Be warned: You may want to think twice about those hands on the sunny steering wheel too because hands and necks show the symptoms of photoaging the most.) Since even the slightest bits of exposure add up quickly, it’s important to protect any uncovered skin with a broad spectrum UVA and UVB lotion with a minimum SPF of 15.

I use SPF 15 every morning (Shiseido Benefiance Wrinkle Resist 24 Day Cream 50ml SPF15) . I apply it to my face, neck and hands. It depends on where you live in the world as to how high your SPF should be but personally I find SPF15 perfect for english weather.  And don’t be fooled into thinking that SPF30 is double the strength of SPF15 – it doesn’t work like that.  If you’re looking for a quality SPF, I suggest buying something with one or more of the following ingredients:

  • B3: It aids in skin renewal and helps to improve your skins natural moisture barrier.
  • Lycopene: Helps improve your skin’s natural protection against ultraviolet radiation.
  • Hyaluronic Acid: Restores water content, elasticity and firmness to your skin.
  • Vitamin C: This antioxidant helps reduce the appearance of sun damage and increases skin’s moisture.
  • Katafray Bark: This ingredient is full of natural moisturizing properties.
  • Argan Oil: Repairs sun damage and keeps skin looking radiant and smooth.

Taking all that into consideration, I would never want to come across biased and I make no exception for this situation.  A very good friend of mine and nutritionist graduate Samantha Holl read this very blog and after congratulating me on another excellent piece of writing, opened my eyes to the fact that there is another side to the coin, as with everything, and advises the following :

“Vitamin D intakes are notoriously poor in the UK thanks to our appalling summer weather. Make sure to leave your skin free of an SPF for 15 mins a day in the summer months to avoid vitamin D deficiency. Not only can this cause bone problems such as osteoporosis and osteomalacia, but vitamin D from natural sources has been linked to a reduced risk of some cancers and various chronic conditions such as type II diabetes and hypertension. Supplements are not recommended for the majority of the population and it is virtually impossible to gain the recommended intake of vitamin D from foods. To sum up, make sure you get a bit of sunshine in you life, but don’t burn!”

If you don’t follow all or at least some of this advice – you risk ending up looking like this!

Hope you’ve learnt a bit more – now go and get yourselves protected.  You’ll thank me in the long run.

Lots of love, have a lovely week.



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