In the last decade there’s no doubt that we’ve become increasingly aware and educated on the importance of sun protection; no longer reserved just for our holidays, sunscreens are making their way into our daily lives in a multitude of ways in order to protect us from the sun’s damaging rays. As we become more concerned with the appearance of our skin and aware of the link between UVA rays and accelerated ageing, many of us are trying to make informed choices and many more are opting for a foundation or moisturiser with added SPF. The majority of high street brands now offer this additional level of skin care and protection, helping to create a barrier that prevents long-term damage and pigmentation issues. However, what they don’t tell you is that the SPF level on the bottle is actually (in the majority of cases) not the level of protection you get when you apply to your skin. Shocking eh?
The reason for this is purely the way that SPF is scientifically measured, and it’s all about quantity. It’s recommended that you apply six full teaspoons of sunscreen over your body to offer the best protection, and this is the level that scientifically they use to
measure its efficacy; when it comes to your makeup, there’s no way that the average person is going to be applying effectively a teaspoons worth of moisturiser or foundation every morning, so the protection offered is likely to be a lot lower than you may anticipate. So that SPF15 label on your bottle of foundation is likely to be in the region of SPF5 by the time it’s applied to your skin (in a nice light, even layer.)
It’s also recommended by experts that you re-apply protection throughout the day for maximum protection, especially in the summer months, but unless you remove your makeup completely and start again (or add another layer over the surface if you’re down with the cakey look!) then the limited SPF that you do wear will stop working effectively anyway. Your sunscreen needs to be constantly topped up if exposed to direct sun, and it’s often something we don’t even think about. This is where facial spritz SPFs come in super handy – pop them in your bag so you can top up every 3-4 hours and prevent a red nose at the end of your lunchbreak!
What should you be doing then to ensure you’re looking after your skin in the long term? In my opinion its essential to wear a facial SPF every single day that offers both UVA and UVB protection as the last step in your skincare regime; any additional SPF in your makeup will be a bonus, but should never be relied on in its entirety. Not only does it offer minimal protection, but unless it specifically states that it offers UVA protection you may actually be speeding up the ageing process every single day without even realising it.
If you’re not aware of the differences, then UVA stands for ‘Ultra Violet A’ and these rays are responsible for ageing the skin. Once they penetrate into the skin’s surface, they attack free radicals (such as Vitamin A & E) and zap our hydration levels; they
also destroy the natural collagen and elastin fibres found in the deeper layers of the skin, which results in dreaded wrinkles and creases over a longer period of time. Too much exposure to this ray will result in premature ageing, but it doesn’t just come from the sun – it comes from blue light emitted from phones and laptops too.
UVB stands for ‘Ultra Violet B’ and these are the super nasty rays that burn. Once these penetrate into the skin’s surface they attack melanocytes, our natural cells that give our skin pigment, and can lead to them becoming damaged and abnormal; it’s this abnormality that can lead to a higher risk of skin cancer. Although these are the rays we’re exposed to on a sunny day, the UVA rays are the ones that we’re exposed to every single day – even if we don’t step outside the front door.
I’m a huge advocate of daily SPF and using targeted products to help prevent those signs of ageing, damage and pigmentation; it may be an additional step in your regime, and another product to buy, but once your skin is damaged there’s no turning back. With huge progression in the formulas we now see on the high street, there’s no excuse not to be using an SPF daily – they’re light, non-sticky, transparent, affordable and actually offer priming benefits too. Honestly I don’t know why there hasn’t been more research done in this area and complaints made to industry bodies about the claims made on product packaging, or why it’s a topic seldom discussed, but for me it’s huge. So now you know – relying on SPF protection from your foundation or moisturiser is never enough.
Discover more about SPF, sun cream and sunscreen alongside the answers to your burning questions HERE.
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