Spring, Sunshine…SPF?

Spring is finally springing! And with this week seeing some actual sunshine (roll on the vitamin D dose) and increased temperatures I’ve been thinking about SPF (Sun Protection Factor) and how I protect my family. You may or may not know but SPF is one of only a couple of things that can legitimately all itself ‘anti-ageing’. Sun damage is one of the biggest contributing factors to ageing and not to mention potentially skin-cancer inducing, and who wants to run that risk?

Recently, someone close to our family has had to undertake some pretty aggressive skin treatment to their face to counter the effects of years of sun damage, largely from childhood, which left untreated could turn into cancerous cells. It’s not something I’d want to go through myself and the side effects haven’t been pleasant at all. The good news is it’s been caught by the dermatologist and is being treated and in a few weeks time will have hopefully killed all the bad cells.

Personally I apply an SPF everyday as part of my morning facial routine, but I’m not as rigorous with my children, I mean WHAT?!?!?!? It’s suddenly dawned on me that while I’m pedantic over the summer months, packing them off to school faces and extremities greasy with sun cream I’m not doing this year round. (Un)fortunately, us Brits aren’t blessed with a lot of sun, and so I think we’re a little naïve to it’s dangers. But the UVA and UVB rays are out there. Think of it this way, if it’s light outside then there is sunlight which whether masked by clouds or not emits these harmful rays.

So, my message today is firstly, are you thinking about your sun protection? Are you protecting yourself adequately throughout the year? Are you protecting your family adequately? There’s really no excuse these days, we are well informed of the dangers.

Secondly, if you don’t use sun protection, how and what can you do about it? First off, find a sunscreen that contains both UVA and UVB protection (broad spectrum). There are two camps on sun creams within the industry; Physical (contain active mineral ingredients, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which work by sitting on top of the skin to deflect and scatter damaging UV rays away from the skin. They are often thick, pasty formulas that take forever to rub in, often referred to as physical blockers) and chemical (create a chemical reaction and work by changing UV rays into heat, then releasing that heat from the skin, often runnier, disappear into the skin akin to moisturisers). I prefer to use an independent SPF to my moisturiser, and tend to use a chemical sun cream, however I top this with a physical protection in the form of a powder on-the-go in summer months. I believe that while some moisturisers contain SPF, you need to use a lot to get adequate protection, likewise with makeup. It adds seconds to your morning routine, why skimp? Other methods of reducing sun exposure are well known these days; avoid direct exposure, keep to shady areas and hats/visors/caps the list is endless! Hats on kids is a great way to protect their faces and heads, that’s if they keep them on long enough!!

Thirdly, know how much to apply and how often. Many people don’t use enough sun protection. If applying to face, you should be able to see a bit of white cast initially, which you work in. I find a 10p size works for me. Likewise with the body you’re looking at around a tablespoon per large area, a little less for children but you should see a full body ‘sheen’. Reapply often.

So, here you are some musings as I sit and look out at my sunny garden. Enjoy this weather, we all need a good dose of Vitamin D, it’s glorious, but protect yourselves and those around you!

I am aware that there are some whose views on this subject differ from my own, that’s fine, I am by no means an expert. There are arguments for and against physical and chemical sun protection, views on ingredients and those who use alternative methods to protect themselves. There is a plethora of information out there, this scratches the surface. However, you choose to protect your skin, make sure you’re informed and take care.

Ana xx