As part of Dermalogica’s group of skinfluencers I got the chance to attend a Dermalogica Skcin sun safety masterclass a couple of weeks ago. When I say it opened my eyes, I felt like I finally got the message about just how damaging sun exposure can be, and why I really need to start taking care of my skin.
Despite knowing the dangers of the sun, there is no denying that I absolutely love a tan and have always tanned easily thanks to my Dad’s mediterranean heritage. I hate to be cliche here, but as the saying goes ‘life is better with a tan’. It boosts my confidence and I’m just not one of those people that can get onboard with fake tanning because of the maintenance, and smell. And whilst I tan easily, there has been many occasions in my young adult years that I have burnt so badly I’ve had to take medication and steroid cream for it, I’ve tried sunbeds and felt so guilty afterwards and other times where I’ve been on the cusp of sun stroke. I’m sure I’m not the only millennial when I say I know the risks, but I choose to ignore them. I knew this masterclass was going to be the eye opener I needed.
So let’s cut to some of the facts about sun safety that I learned during the class….
Skin Cancer Facts
- Non-melanoma skin cancer is the UK’s most common cancer.
- Malignant melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer which is now the most COMMON cancers in young adults (aged 15-34 in the UK). Over the last 25 years, rates of melanoma have risen faster than any other common cancer. Shockingly, the National cancer registry of Ireland expect numbers to double by 2040.
- Over 86% off all melanoma and the majority of all other skin cancers are caused by damage from UV, this makes the disease almost entirely preventable!
- Certain skin cancers are more likely to develop when we have exposure to short intermittent levels of UV.
- 19% of skin cancer is preventable, and almost all are treatable when caught early enough.
What Is The Difference Between UVA and UVB Rays?
You’ve probably heard of these two terms at some point and maybe like me, had no clue what the difference was.
What Are UVA Rays?
UVA rays are invisible and cause ageing, this occurs because UVA penetrates through to the dermis which houses collagen and elastin. Regardless of the season, UVA is consistent throughout the year and the exposure levels never change. Not from an ageing perspective but accumulative, UVA can lead to more significant skin conditions over time.
What Are UVB Rays?
Where UVA penetrates to the deeper layers of the skin and is invisible, UVB rays are what causes the burning on the skin. UVB reaches the epidermis, this layer of the skin is continually renewing and giving protection to the outside environment. Suncream was initially just for preventing the burning and skin from going red.
What Is Blue Light?
Blue light is another one to watch for which is incredibly topical at the moment. Blue light is visible light which is something that surrounds us daily and doesn’t just get muted from daylight, we see it through our mobile screens, computers and other devices. The risks of blue light are currently unknown.
In the past I have always been someone that applies once and then thinks that’s enough. However, as I have got older I have ensured that I regularly wear a facial SPF during the summer. (I have been using Invisible Physical Defence for the last 2 years and I love it, no white residue and it sits perfectly under my makeup!). I never knew the intricacies of SPF and usually just pick whatever up that is available to me without any further consideration. If this also sounds like you, keep reading.
SPF carries a rating of low-medium-high-very high. This is the number measurement of protection from UV rays, and how long it will take for UVB rays to start burning your skin. This measurement only applies if you wear the correct amount of suncream and only if you don’t sweat, rub it off or get wet etc.
It is highly recommended to wear an SPF 30 or 50 for high or very high protection. SPF15 suncream blocks approximately 93% of UV rays, SPF30 blocks approx 97% and at the highest end of the spectrum, SPF50 blocks around 98%.
Then we come onto broad spectrum suncreams, broad is recommended as it provides the best protection. Broad spectrum protects against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA protection is critical to prevent ageing and skin cancers.
What’s The Difference Between Physical and Chemical SPF?
I was 28 years old when I learnt that there are these two different types of SPF, like what?!
What Is Physical SPF?
Physical SPF acts as a barrier by sitting on the top of the skin and reflecting UV rays, it is used in mineral suncreams. This type is ideal for all skin types including those with sensitive skin types. They are richer than traditional creams but they are ultra sheer and don’t tend to leave a tell tale white residue on skin.
What Is Chemical SPF?
Chemical SPF absorbs UV rays and transforms them into heat. Again, this type of SPF is ideal for most skin types and well suited to those with active lifestyles. They don’t need much work to blend them in as they absorb into skin very quickly. They’re not greasy and are suitable for use on both the face and body. Protection 50 Sport from Dermalogica is the perfect type of chemical SPF, it is my go to whether I’m at the beach, kayaking or just having dinner and drinks out.
How Much SPF Should I Apply?
It is the age old question, but one that is so important to understand. The recommendation is;
- 5ml for face, neck and chest – this is about the amount that will fill a tablespoon.
- 30ml for full body – a shot glass full.
I’m not saying you need to shove a shot glass in every bag now, lol. You’ll get used to the amount that is needed for your face and body, a lot of people go by the 3 fingers worth for their body, but it is different for everyone.
When And How Often Should I Apply Suncream?
You should apply suncream 20-30 mins prior to exposure to give it time to absorb and then reapply every 2 hours or after activity.
Sun Safety Misconceptions & Facts
I thought I’d round it off with some misconceptions and facts to remember that the team shared about suncream and sun safety.
- Don’t forget the lips! Most people do and they burn so easily, regular re-application of an SPF lipsalve is recommended.
- Always check the expiration date of the suncream, if it’s out of date it won’t give the advertised protection.
- People who use an SPF of 15 or higher show 24% less skin ageing than those who don’t use sunscreen daily.
- Having a base tan does NOT stop you from burning. You do still need to apply suncream.
- Sunbeds are NOT safe, even if you don’t burn.
- A tan on your skin is evidence that skin is already damaged.
- A high SPF is still needed for those cold skiing holidays. Why? Because the UV rays bounce off the floor and the slopes. The higher you go up the stronger the UV radiation. Every 1000m up it increases by 10-12 on the UV index.
Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun this summer! I’m so thankful to Dermologica for hosting this masterclass and clueing me up on the importance of SPF and understanding skin cancer and how sun damage occurs.
Sun safety and skin cancer charity Skcin are on a mission to prevent over 86% of all skin cancer cases and raise awareness of early detection to save lives. All donations are greatly received by Skcin and helps them to continue to develop, produce, print and distribute life saving information on the prevention and early detection of skin cancer across the UK. Together we can all make a difference and save lives.