Here Comes the Sun…
Wishful thinking, perhaps, but did you know that ultraviolet radiation (UV) can still damage your skin even on the greyest of days (not in short supply with the British Climate!). This is why we recommend you use SPF in your skincare routine all year round.
Around eighty percent of ageing is caused by exposure to UV rays. These can either be UVA or UVB wavelength rays- and the difference between these types is important!
- UVB rays are responsible for Burning or Browning skin.
- UVA rays have a longer wavelength and are responsible for photoaging.
The majority of UV rays that reach the Earth’s surface are UVA rays (around 90%), and these are not stopped by clouds or glass, making them difficult to avoid – even when you’re sitting by a window or driving the car.
UV rays penetrate the skin and damage the DNA in the layer known as the ‘dermis’. This layer contains collagen and elastin, which are some of the fibres responsible for keeping skin supple, smooth and youthful. When UVA radiation penetrates into the dermis, the production of these fibres becomes damaged and deranged, leading to formation of wrinkly, ‘leathery’ skin.
So how can you stop this from happening to your skin?
Your best option to protect your skin with a broad spectrum SPF sunscreen- your skin’s secret weapon!
What is SPF?!
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. This is a measure of the level of protection against burning provided by your sunscreen and therefore primarily shows the level of protection against UVB rays.
Levels of UVA protection are indicated by the ‘UVA star rating system’ which ranges from 0-5 and shows the percentage of UVA radiation absorbed by the sunscreen in comparison to UVB.
Sounds complicated? It’s really not- the take home message for you is to select a product with a high SPF and UV star rating- products commonly labelled as ‘Broad Spectrum’ sunscreens. We recommend a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and a UVA star rating of 4 or 5 stars.
What about your moisturiser?
A lot of my patients tell me that they use SPF in their daily moisturiser or foundation and ask me if this is enough? Whilst individual products may vary, the majority of these simply do not provide adequate protection.
Questions to ask are:
- Is this product water resistant, rub-resistant and sweat resistant?
- Is the SPF 30 or above?
- Does this product contain UVB and UVA protection? (Is it ‘broad spectrum’?)
- Am I applying this product to all areas exposed to UV radiation prone to photoaging (i.e. face, neck, chest, ears)?
If you cannot tick all of these boxes, you should apply a separate sunscreen and layer your other skincare steps accordingly.
When do you need to wear it?
In a nutshell, if you are not wearing sunscreen, you are leaving your skin at risk of penetration and damage from UV rays. This can cause photoaging (including pigmentary changes, actinic keratosis, and wrinkles to name a few), skin cancers and may lead to worsening of current skin conditions such as rosacea.
Just a teaspoon of suncream….
Studies show that most of us apply less than half the amount of sunscreen we need to provide the protective levels indicated on the bottle. As a general rule, an average size adult will need six teaspoons of sunscreen for their entire body. This equates to just over half a teaspoon for the face (including backs of ears!), neck and chest.
Common signs of photoaging include wrinkles and folds, age spots, broken capillaries and ‘spider veins’, loose or saggy skin, and a blotchy, uneven complexion. If these are sounding familiar, do not despair! Step one (hopefully this is now becoming apparent…) get yourself a good, broad spectrum sun cream. Even once signs of photoaging have started, this step is essential for preventing further damage.
How to tackle existing issues…
At GILD Clinic, we can assess you carefully and recommend treatments tailored to your individual presentation. Here are some examples of treatments we can use to help target your photoaging concerns:
Wrinkles and folds
Skincare with active ingredients such as acids and retinoids
Skincare including retinoids
Skincare including active ingredients
Not all treatments are suitable for all skin types, concerns or individuals, so we recommend a face-to-face review with one of our experts before booking yourself in for any of the above!
And remember… PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE…so slap on the sunscreen and keep this anti-aging secret weapon in your skincare arsenal.