Sunscreen 101


Everything you need to know about Sunscreen

Lobster red skin is a difficult look to pull off, but sunburn and UV damage can be easily avoided with a good bit of common sense and a good dollop of sunscreen!

The first step in anti-ageing the skin is to apply sunscreen every day. This is my number 1 secret to having younger looking, smoother, healthier skin. Sunscreen should be applied after moisturiser and you should apply it every day, winter and summer, to ensure your skin is protected from the sun or UV rays which cause 80% of the ageing process.

If you are outside in the sun, then sunscreen should be applied every 2 hours and more if you have been swimming or sweating heavily. For those of us that golf, run, walk the dog and are the ‘outdoor types’, this is your must have skin care product.

Sensitive skin with little broken veins, inflamed skin, lines and wrinkles, age spots and pigmentation are all signs that SPF hasn’t been a priority and this has resulted in the skin being hammered by the sun. Excessive sunbathing and sun beds with no protection …can lead to skin cancer.

Basal Cell Carcinomas

Personally, I have had two Basal Cell Carcinomas or BCC’s which are skin cancers and fortunately were treatable. And I suppose that gives me the juice to nag you into the sunscreen habit.

There is a big debate about whether you should use Physical or Chemical Sunscreens and the belief is that Physical Sunscreens which are Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are better as they prevent the UV rays from entering the deeper layers of the skin. They are likened to putting little mirrors on your skin and the mirrors deflecting the harmful rays. Chemical sunscreens such as Octinoxate absorb UV rays and release their energy as heat.

I like the idea that Physical Sunscreens deflect the rays and keep the rays from entering the Dermis where our collagen lies. If we can protect the collagen – then we can keep the skin from wrinkling and that is always a plus for me.

If you have sensitive skin or have children, Physical Sunscreens are thought to be less agitating to the skin – so I would plump for those sunscreens with Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide definitely.

What’s good to know is that both Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are ‘Broad Spectrum’ ingredients, meaning they protect the skin from the harmful UVA rays, which age the skin damaging the collagen and UVB rays which cause sunburn.

What does SPF mean?

SPF is the measure of time before a skin will go red or burn. E.g. for my skin it probably would be 15 minutes in the midday sun, with no protection, for my skin to burn. And so if I apply a SPF 30 then this would be 30 times 15 minutes which is 450 minutes or 7 1/2 hours I can stay in the sun with this protection. I have to be honest and say that I wouldn’t wait 7 1/2 hours before applying sunscreen again. Once again, you should apply sunscreen every 2 hours and more if you have been swimming or sweating heavily.

I would like to say Thank You to John Scott, consultant at Glasgow Royal Infirmary who treats around 300 skin cancers a month and has treated mine successfully. John advised that SPF 25 is probably the highest spf he recommends as you need to allow some Sun to be absorbed to get Vitamin D into the body. You also need Sun for bone health and the immune system.

Therefore, maybe go for the SPF 30 and simply reapply frequently. In the end up, it comes down to your preference of how a sunscreen product feels and while I like Zinc Oxide – I would simply advocate that you use sunscreen and remember to cover the whole body – you need to be thinking of applying a shot glass full!