Today I’m going to tell you five extremely important things you should know about sunscreens. Why? Recently, I tested my friends and families knowledge on sun-protection to see if it has improved over the last couple of years. There are numerous campaigns aimed to better our sun awareness but are they working? Are we getting any better?
Not as much as we should. That’s what I think. I hear the same misperceptions creeping up again and again. I would even dare to say that the sun-protection products are probably the most misunderstood beauty products.
Why? Because we neglect them. We like to presume that we know when to use them? How to use them and what we should we be using. We’re all guilty of lying in the sun without any protection fort just 20 minutes or so, even though we know it’s important to apply sunscreen. We hardly ever read the instructions thinking that as it’s just a lotion its application is straight forward. When we’re put on the spot we start to mutter, hesitate with the answers or make strong statements based on… not knowledge but presumption! When I asked around not many actually new what it really means that a sunscreen is water resistant or waterproof and what protection are they getting from it. A few knew their stuff. Which group do you fall in to?
Hands up if you think that there’s no need for sun-protection when it’s cloudy?
Well then, you definitely should carry on reading. If you know the answer to this question I recommend you stick with me anyway, just in case.
You’re not too sure. Shhh don’t admit it! Read on and you’ll have all the knowledge to get glorious and a safe sun-tan this summer.
- To be truly protected you need a sunscreen, which is protecting from both UVB (burning rays) and UVA (ageing rays). Products with protection agains both types of rays are often described as those with ‘BROAD SPECTRUM PROTECTION’. SPF indicates the level of protection against UVB rays when PA indicates the level of UVA protection. PA + being the lowest and PA +++ being the highest. Sometimes you can find stars used to indicate the level of the UVA protection, with 5* being the maximum protection you can get. (UVA penetrates via clouds and glass and is the biggest contributor to premature skin ageing, that’s why you should use sunblock even on a cloudy day).
- Does it matter how much of the product you use? Yes it does, and that’s why you should always read what it says on the back of the bottle. When you use less than what’s recommended you’re frankly reducing the level of protection you get.
- Do we actually know what is the difference between SPF 15, 30 and SPF 50? There’s only 1% difference in the protection you get from a SPF30 and SPF 50, so when you can, you may as well choose the highest factor possible. With SPF 15 blocking 92% of UVB rays, SPF30 blocking 97% and SPF 50 stopping 98% of UVB rays. Anything above SPF 50 will still block only 98% of UVB radiation. This is the reason why some counters don’t allow to produce products with higher factor than SPF 50 as this is misleading for the customers.
- Water resistant! Does it mean it’ll last all day? Do you have to reapply it? YES you absolutely should re-apply your sunscreen as soon as you get out of the water. Products labeled as ‘Waterproof‘ or ‘Very water resistant‘ should provide protection in water for 80 minutes. Sometimes products are labeled as ‘Water Resistant’ and those provide only around 40 minutes of protection while in the water. All sun protection products should be re-applied every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
- Layering products with SPF doesn’t increase the level of protection, which means that if you have a day product with SPF 15 and you apply on top another product with SPF 15, you have still the protection of SPF 15 not 30.
So now we’re all sunscreen clever, we can enjoy some healthy sun-bathing.