If there is one thing you should never omit from your skincare routine, it’s sunscreen. Research has shown that up to 80% of signs of photoageing like brown spots and wrinkles are due to the sun’s UV rays. A good Sun Protection Factor (SPF) can help protect your skin from UV damage, which can also cause more serious skin conditions like skin cancer.
SPF is important even in winter or when it is cloudy as your skin can still absorb harmful UV rays in these conditions. Educating yourself on which SPFs to use might just be the best step toward healthy skin.
Protection against harmful rays
According to Kevin Khosa from SKIN functional, there are three harmful rays you need to protect your skin from: UVA rays, UVB rays and infrared rays. UVA rays can penetrate your skin more deeply and cause skin cells to age prematurely. It can also worsen pigmentation. UVB rays are the most dangerous for your skin, though as they have higher energy levels typically damaging the outermost layers of your skin, causing sunburn. Infrared rays are part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Although they are not very dangerous, it is important to note that the sun contains all three of these harmful rays.
SKIN functional has just launched a new, broad-spectrum SPF 50. It provides protection against UVA and UVB while also giving you anti-ageing and antioxidant benefits. It’s a lightweight sunscreen that is not oily, which means it doesn’t leave you with that dreaded white cast.
It has been independently tested and approved for an SPF rating of 50 and it is fragrance and cruelty free.
SKIN functional SPF. Image: Supplied
Tips for choosing an SPF
With so much information out there, choosing a sunscreen that is right for you might pose as a rather daunting task. Three things to keep in mind, though are to make sure that you buy a broad-spectrum SPF (one that protects against both UVA and UVB rays), that it has an SPF rating of 30 or higher and that it is water resistant.
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Speaking of SPF ratings, Dr Alek Nikolic, the owner of SkinMiles, says that SPF ratings can be rather misleading as it is a rough guide to how well a sunscreen will protect your skin from harmful rays. It is also interesting to note that SPF protection will work differently on everyone, because it depends on a number of factors, including your skin type, the amount of SPF applied and the intensity of sunlight.
Dr Nikolic, a specialist in aesthetic medicine, says: “Besides SPF, we’re big believers in using sun creams that contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. These minerals protect your skin by reflecting all harmful UVA and UVB wavelengths.”
According to Dr Nikolic, applying sunscreen once a day is not enough. You should apply it every two hours, or more after swimming or exercising. SPF is its own layer in your skincare routine, hence a moisturiser or foundation with SPF won’t do the trick. Dr Nikolic recommends that you use a separate sunscreen in your skincare routine.
Sunscreen routine. Image: iStock
These are Dr Nikolic’s suggested products:
Heliocare Advanced Gel SPF 50 SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 Lamelle Helase Photo-Repair Cream 50 Esthederm Photo Reverse Brightening Protective Anti-Dark Spots Face Care Dermaceutic Sun Ceutic 50+ DermExcel DermDefence SPF 50 La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo + SPF 30
Esse Skincare also recently launched a new SPF 30 organic sunscreen for sensitive skin types. It is a rapidly biodegradable, coral-friendly product that offers broad UVB coverage with a critical wavelength of 373nm, which protects your skin from both UVA and UVB radiation. It includes coated Zinc Oxide to screen out UV rays, but is nearly transparent on application. The product is also boosted by antioxidants from Myrothamnus, Rooibos and olive leaf extract.