Despite the recent showers I think we can firmly agree the summer is upon us. And with that in mind the key product we will all be looking at is of course sunscreen, otherwise known as SPF.

Firstly, what is SPF? It stands for sun protection factor ie spf 15. That number basically means that if you can normally stay out in the sun for 10 mins before burning spf 15 will mean your skin can be out for 15 times that amount of time. So you can go out for 150 minutes. 

There are 2 types of SPF, physical and chemical. But they both have the same purpose, to protect the skin from UVA and UVB rays. 

Let’s discuss the 2 types of UV rays…

UVA Rays

These are the rays that are strong all year round. They can penetrate through glass and cloud and are your ‘ageing’ rays. These rays have a longer wavelength meaning they can reach the deeper layers of the skin.

They can contribute to DNA damage and cause some skin cancers. They are also the main type of light used on sunbeds.

UVB Rays

These are more of your ‘burning’ rays. They have a shorter wavelength but are higher in energy. They effect the outermost layers of the skin. These rays cause most skin cancers.

They can be filtered through clouds and can’t penetrate through glass.

So how do we protect our skin using sunscreen? Well let’s look at the 2 types of SPF, chemical and physical, let’s start with chemical…

Chemical spf is a collection of chemicals that absorb into the skin, then absorb the u rays that enter the skin. They are the metabolised, warming up the cells in the process. This type of SPF has been known to be a hormone disruptor, have long term lasting effects on aquatic life and is banned in some countries for that reason.

Physical SPF contains far less ingredients, the main ones are zinc skin oxide and titanium oxide. This SPF lies on the top of the skin and essentially reflects the uv rays instead of absorbing them.

We will all likely be familiar with the star ratings to look at one bottles of sunscreen, but what does it actually mean?

Star rating

In recent years star ratings on SPF have been considered the standard of how well an SPF performs. But this form of rating was actually created by boots in the 90s and although it’s a good indicator and has been picked up throughout Europe, if you’re buying your SPF from outside of that area don’t feel like it isn’t very good because it has no star rating. It isn’t an industry standard. This being said always look for a broad spectrum as that’s both uva and uvb rays.

My hero facial SPFs really are the full AlumierMD range, Heliocare and high street has to be La Roche Posay.

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