The warm weather is upon us and since most of us are still stuck at home and not working, we are spending more time sitting out in gardens and parks than we usually would. It is so important to wear sunscreen whenever you are going outside (or are sat in direct sunlight inside). This goes for every season of the year too, not just in the summer. In this post, I share my facial SPF recommendations and also get all your SPF questions answered by a dermatologist.
I had a chat with Altruist founder, dermatologist Dr Andrew Birnie, so that he could answer all those frequently asked SPF questions for you in this blog post. Altruist is a UK brand and there’s no doubt that Dr Birnie is more than qualified to have created the range. He’s a Consultant Dermatologist and skin cancer surgeon from Canterbury. He has teamed up with formulation scientists to create sunscreens that are premium quality but cost a fraction of the normal price. To achieve this, they reduce profit margins and unnecessary marketing costs. They even donate 10p from each tube sold to help protect the skin of children in Africa.
What is the difference between chemical and physical sunscreen?
A chemical (or organic) sunscreen absorbs UV rays and converts the energy into heat, which is released from the body. Physical (or mineral) is a sunscreen that reflects and scatters rays away from the body. Most sunscreens are a combination of both to ensure good coverage across the UV spectrum, as each have different absorption (of UV) properties.
Which should people use?
Wearing any sunscreen is better than none, but ideally you should choose one that protects across the UVB and UVA spectrum. You can look for the EU kite mark (UVA in a circle) which indicates that it meets EU requirements for broad spectrum protection or the star rating system to help guide you. A 5 star rating means the sunscreen offers about the same level of UVA protection is it does UVB (which is what the SPF refers to). You should choose a high SPF product, at least SPF 30 with broad spectrum protection, as this blocks UVB burning rays letting less of these harmful rays through. The higher the SPF the longer you will be protected, so long as you apply according to the manufacturers instructions (and reapply when instructed).
When should people wear sunscreen?
You should apply sunscreen whenever you will be outdoors in daylight for more than about 15 minutes, but also be aware that UVA (which is the main cause of ageing) can penetrate through glass, so you will still be exposed sitting in a car. Ideally you should wear it year round as the UVA levels are fairly consistent year round, even when there is cloud cover. UVB causes burning and these levels increase with the intensity of the sun.Why is wearing sunscreen so important and beneficial?
Wearing sunscreen reduces your cumulative burden of sun exposure over a lifetime. It’s important to wear sunscreen to protect your skin and prevent you from burning, reducing your risk of sun damage and skin cancer. It’s really important to avoid burning as this significantly increases your likelihood of getting melanoma.
Broad spectrum sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays. What’s the difference between them?
There is a light spectrum and at one end are x rays, other end infra red. The more harmful rays from sunlight are the Ultraviolet rays. UVB has a much higher energy and is therefore is potentially more dangerous. UVA doesn’t have as much energy although it can penetrate the skin more deeply and is more likely to cause long term ageing damage. UVB is the main culprit for skin cancer as it is more likely to cause burning, although it’s important to note that UVA can contribute to skin cancer too.
When does sunscreen expire/’go off’ – should you use up an open bottle within months for example?
Sunscreen should be used within 12 months of opening.
Are all sunscreens safe to use on both the face and body?
Most sunscreens can be used on both the face and body although there are some products on the market designed especially for the face. We are about to launch Altruist Face Fluid which offers the same high quality sun protection as the rest of the Altruist range but in a slightly lighter fluid especially for the face.
Altruist Dermatologist Sunscreen SPF 50* – £4, Amazon
As Dr Birnie said, this is broad spectrum UVA & UVB protection. It absorbs nicely into the skin and doesn’t feel greasy or sticky. It doesn’t have a scent either as it is fragrance free. It is also water resistant and suitable for children’s skin too. If I am spending any length of time in the sun, it’s always SPF 50 I use.
Filorga UV-Defence Urban Sun Care SPF 50 – £35.75, Escentual
I suppose this would be classed as a luxury SPF, but it’s more of a skincare-SPF hybrid, which is why it’s that bit more expensive. This is suitable for all skin types and protects against UV light and free radicals. It contains Hyaluronic Acid and Brown Algae Extract to hydrate and plump the skin, as well as help to regenerate skin tissue. There is also the powerful antioxidant Vitamin E to protect the skin from environmental agressors and also help to combat signs of ageing. Finally, over time it will also helpto fadedark spots and hyperpigmentation via a Hop Extract that regulates melanin synthesis. It’s a light, non-greasy cream and feels really comfortable to wear.Dermalogica Invisible Physical Defense SPF 30* – £49, Dermalogica
Dermalogica are real winners in the SPF market. This one is SPF 30, so I opt for this if I know I am going to be inside for most of the day and only exposed to the sun for very small amounts of time. Out of all of these sunscreens, this one probably feels the most weightless on the skin. It’s a physical SPF but doesn’t have that white residue. This is also a great SPF if you are going to be inside on the computer all day as it also has inbuilt blue light protection. It’s a soothing cream due to it’s unique Mushroom Complex that helps to reduce redness and dryness, and this cream also offers antioxidant protection via its Green Tea Extract. Suitable for Vegans too.
Vichy Capital Soleil SPF 50 Solar Protection Water Enhanced Tan – £19, Escentual
This is a product that I use to top up on SPF as i’m out and about. It’s an oily bi-phase water that has SPF 50 and hydrating Hyaluronic Acid. Not only does it offer sun protection, but it also boosts your tan via its beta carotene ingredient. In addition to the pigment in beta carotene, it’s also an antioxidant too. This does feel slightly greasy and you can feel it on your skin; but if you need just a quick spritz to top up over makeup, this is a good option as it doesn’t disturb makeup underneath. It smells like holidays too.
This post contains press samples, but all opinions are my own.
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