I love the sun, which is a good job since I live in India. We’re lucky enough to see sun and blue skies most days (sorry UK readers!) and being in India means we’re closer to the equator and the sun’s rays are even stronger. I’ve always been sun safe and a huge advocate of wearing sunscreen, (The Domestic Prince doesn’t call me Casper the Ghost because of my St Bart’s tan!), but now I’m in the sun so much more, it’s become an even more important part of my daily skincare routine.
I’m sure everybody knows how damaging the sun can be, but in case you didn’t, here’s a quick recap on why:
The sun gives off three different types of radiation: UVA, UVB and the less heard of / talked about, UVC.
Historically, it’s been the UVB rays that we wanted to protect ourselves against, as these rays were thought to be the most damaging and the ones mainly responsible for causing skin cancer. This is because the UVB rays penetrate the outer layer of our skin and without protection, causes damage to the cells, which can result in sun burned skin and DNA damage. The potential damage that UVB rays can cause depends on the time of day and time of year that the skin was exposed.
However, research in recent years has shown that the UVA rays penetrate far deeper into the skin than the UVB rays, and causes the collagen and elastin to breakdown. UVA rays can also cause skin wrinkling and aging (photoaging), pigmentation damage and skin cancer. Unlike UVB rays, the intensity of UVA radiation is pretty much constant throughout the day and year regardless of the season, and is not filtered by glass.
UVC rays are completely absorbed by the upper atmosphere and thankfully are not something we need to be worried about. Phew!
And something to note, any sunburn that you’ve had, has permanently damaged your skin’s DNA, so you should look to apply SPF 30 to any previous sun burned areas, to help prevent further damage.
The most important thing to remember, is to try super hard to avoid burning, as it’s burning your skin and the subsequent DNA damage, is what can possibly lead to skin cancer.
What to look for when picking sunscreen
- Only buy sunscreen that offers UVA AND UVB protection.
- Just like food, beauty products have sell-by dates, so check the sunscreen is still in date. Sunscreens typically have a 2 to 3 year shelf life.
- Make sure that your sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB rays – the more stars it has, the better. It might have the words “broad spectrum” on the bottle.
- The SPF number is the protection the sunscreen offers against the UVB rays, and the star system is the protection the sunscreen offers against UVA rays.
- Look for the words: avobenzone, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide in the list of ingredients.
Here are a few of my favourite sunscreens.
- Bronze & Protect sun cream, by Nivea
- Soltan Moisturising Suncare Spray, by Boots
- Uber-Dry Sunscreen, by Peter Thomas Roth
- Bronz Repair Anti-Wrinkle Cream for Extreme Sun, by Institut Esthederm
- Light & Silk Mist, by Ambre Soliare
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to scaremonger you about sun exposure, it’s not something to be feared, in fact the sun also offers many health benefits. First up is vitamin D. When our skin is exposed to the UVB rays in natural sunlight, our bodies produce vitamin D. Exposing your arms, face and / or legs for around 10 to 15 minutes, (depending upon your location and time of year) twice a week, without sunscreen should be sufficient. After that, slather on the SPF!
The other benefit of the sun is the effect it has on our mood. I think everybody feels better in the sunshine. I think we only have to look at the “summer” the UK is experiencing this year, to see how sunshine directly correlates to happy shiny people! I know from personal experience that I’m a much happier person when there’s blue skies and sunshine. There have been many a study carried out showing that people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) feel much better during the summer months.
Domestic Princess tips
- Nearly all dermatologists recommend that you never, EVER wear anything less than a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15. An SPF of 2 only protects against 50% of UVB rays, whilst an SPF of 15 protects against 93% and SPF 30 gives protection of 97%. There is a lack of evidence that those SPFs higher than 50 offer any additional protection. No sunscreen can provide 100% protection. On a beach holiday, I typically start out with an SPF of 30 to 50 and gradually move down to an SPF of 15, but I never go lower than SPF 30 on my face and chest.
- Apply sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before going into the sun.
- Be meticulous when applying sunscreen: between your toes, behind your ears, along your hairline. All easy to forget, but burn easily.
- For sensitive skin types, opt for a mineral sunscreen. The skin doesn’t absorb this type of cream; it just creates a barrier, therefore is less likely to cause irritation.
- Remember to drink plenty of water and to take your omega oil supplements, as these will help keep your skin plumped and hydrated and less likely to peel.
- It doesn’t matter if you use factor 15 or factor 50, if you don’t reapply regularly, it won’t provide the protection that you think it will. A good guideline is to reapply every two hours, or if you’ve been sweating or in the water. Even if your sunscreen says waterproof, I’d err on the side of caution and reapply.
- A higher factor doesn’t let you stay out longer; it just prevents less UVA rays getting through. And applying factor 15 twice doesn’t mean you’ve got factor 30 protection.
- Most people don’t apply enough sunscreen. A good guide that Cancer Research recommends: for face and arms: two teaspoons. When on the beach in a swimsuit: two tablespoons.
- Apply sunscreen when out and about in your everyday life. It’s just not sunbathing when sun damage / burn can occur. Domestic Prince – are you listening?!
- It’s just not your body that can be damaged by the sun’s rays, but your eyes too, so don a pair of sunglasses and ensure that they have UVA/UVB protection too.
- Supposedly, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, can offer an SPF of 5, so maybe consider investing in a hat.
- Seek shade between 11am and 3pm, when the sun’s rays are at their strongest.
- DO NOT use sunbeds…..EVER. There are some amazing fake tans on the market these days, so opt for faking it, instead of raising your risk of skin cancer.
Do you practice safe tanning? Do you have a favourite sunscreen that you can share with us? Happy safe sunbathing!
With much love
The Domestic Princess