The Importance of
SPF & Sun Cream
I once heard someone say there's no use in spending time creating a skincare routine, if that routine doesn't end with suncream and that statement has always stayed with me. Suncream/sunscreen/SPF whatever you may call it in passing, it is without shadow of a doubt the most important part of any skincare routine.
You can moisturise, use actives, exfoliate, add tanning drops, double cleanse and everything in-between but if you simply aren't following all of these things up with a sun cream that protects your skin from harmful UVA & UVB rays, then you don't have a well rounded and safe routine.
Before I share a few tips below about sun protection and the suncreams I've used and loved over the years, I have to preface this with a disclaimer that I am of course no expert. I'm simply a consumer of beauty whose career opened up into the world of cosmetics and skincare almost 10 years ago now.
I've chatted about sun protection before on the blog but as we see people in the public eye like Gwyneth Paltrow sharing misinformation about the use of sun protection, it's for all of us to share the moments we realised we needed to do more for our skin and what tips and tricks we've gathered from the real experts over the years, that we'd love to help pass on.
My Own Experience
A few years ago, although I was never one to sit in the sun and bake, I had a couple of lightbulb moments that mean I don't think there's been a day in the last 3 years or so that I haven't worn a suncream on my face. It's now always the last step in my skincsare routine, every single morning. I've always tried to take good care of my skin and especially as someone with naturally fair skin I've always opted for a faux tan over a real tan without fail. Being so naturally pale means like most I burn easily so I've always chosen to wear a hat, throw on my sunglasses, coat myself in suncream and hide away under an umbrella as opposed to sitting in the sun. But admittedly I didn't take suncream as a forever part of my skincare routine as seriously as I should have, until I saw the damage I had already unknowingly exposed on myself.
After a reaction to a new skincare product a few years ago my skin was left in a bit of a state. Although I've never had overly problematic skin (reactive and a little dry overall!) it was suddenly incredibly sensitive, quite sore, more dry than ever and also covered in texture from my hairline to my jawline. Tiny little bumps that felt hard and became part of my skins texture. I was privileged enough to be able to seek out a specialist after friends recommendations and that first experience changed how I viewed my skin for good. The amazing team at L'atelier Aesthetics not only treated my immediate problem, they gave my skin a full overhaul and even scanned and mapped my face out in incredible detail. Even though I'd always felt I was a pretty great example of someone who avoided the sun and used suncream quite often, it was immediately apparent my skin was sun damaged, especially in areas around my eyes, my cheeks and my forehead. Remember sun damage doesn't necessarily mean visually sun burnt, it also means sun aged and damaged too.
After seeing the damage that my poor skin had had inflicted on it over the years, I was suddenly very aware that suncream was something I needed to prioritise in my routine and not only that, but I needed to be using a higher SPF that was broad spectrum. This would ensure my skin was not only protected from UVB rays (these cause sun burn) but UVA rays too (these cause aging). As mentioned above I am of course no expert and have relied on others over the years to learn more about what my skin needs and when people ask for just one important skincare tip from me it will forever be "Please wear your suncream!"
The truth of the matter is suncream is so very important to be wearing every day of our lives, even if we don't think we'll be in direct sunlight for prolonged moments of time. We need to normalise using an SPF as the last step in our skincare routine no matter what our day ahead may hold. Rates of skin cancer are increasing here in the UK and over the last decade, melanoma skin cancer rates have increased by almost two-fifths (38%). Rates in females have increased by almost a third (30%) and rates in males have increased by almost half (47%). It was found in 2015 that 86% of melanoma skin cancer cases were preventable. 86% is such an incredibly high volume of cases. I really do feel we should be encouraging the use of SPF between friends as well as following incredible experts online who break down any complex, scientific issues to help us to understand and reach those a-ha moments we need to have with our routines.
If you have any skin concerns such as moles that are changing, pigmentation that seems to have worsened or any other skin changes that you're worried out please make sure to reach out to an expert who can help you in determining the best course of action. And for every day skincare advice, information and news make sure to follow awesome skincare experts and content creators online to bring you the latest all about skincare where you live such as Caroline Hirons, Hyram Yarbro and James Welsh. There's a world of awesome creators out there who put their heart and soul into making sure you're armed with the tools and information you need to protect your skin!
5 Things to Know
- Volume - You probably need more suncream than you think! There are quite a few ways to work out just how much you need to put on your face in a morning including the '2 finger rule' (2 full fingers of product), the one full teaspoon rule or the medium sized grape rule. As a rule of thumb it may look a lot and take a minute to sink in but better too much than not enough!
- Application - Remember to apply suncream down your neck, across the top of your ears, around your eyes, into your hairline and the back of your neck too. We've all been there when we miss a spot and no one likes that regret! And remember your sun protection applied properly will last you approximately 2 hours and if possible you should then reapply every 2 hours following.
- Type - Choose an SPF for your face that is labelled 'Broad Spectrum' to protect your skin from both aging (UVA) and sun burn (UVB). I personally opt for the higher the SPF the better so opt for at least a 30 if not a 50+ when it comes to protecting my own face throughout the day.
- Expiration - Even more so than with other cosmetics, stick very closely to the expiry date noted on your suncream. SPF products degrade over time and need repurchasing and replacing as often as they state they do. If you're using it daily you'll likely use it way before any noted expiration dates but keep an eye on them.
- Extras - If any of your other skincare products or makeup products contain added SPF that's a great extra but you still need to use a broad spectrum SPF as the last step in your skincare routine. Simply put a product formulated for another reason with SPF then added, can be considered as diluting the suncream aspect of the product, therefore meaning the quantity you would need to use to protect your skin would be far more than you would naturally use.
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Please stay safe in the sun and protect yourself - use suncream liberally and often all over your body and take facts over opinions always! Also a quick note to acknowledge that different countries use different markers and rules to classify and formulate their suncreams, so please do take this into account when purchasing a suncream to add into your unique routine. For example not only are their differences between chemical and physical suncreams and the way in which they protect you while utilising different ingredients, but the EU regards SPF as a cosmetic product and the USA regard SPF as a medical product. Marketing, ingredients and labelling will always differ from country to country.