Ever wondered what the numbers on your SPF really stand for or just how diligent you should be when it comes to wearing sunscreen? This Summer, ensure you stay sunburn free with our mini guide to SPF's and our favourite natural ways to prevent skin damage from sun exposure.
The term SPF displayed on the label of all sunscreens is otherwise known as the Sun Protection Factor and refers to a products ability to screen the skin from the suns harsh rays. With SPF's ranging from 2 to 50, there has been a common misconception that the higher the SPF the less frequently the sunscreen requires application, however this is not the case.
There are two types of ultraviolet radiation - UVA and UVB. These two forms of ultraviolet radiation are the culprits responsible for damaging the skin, increasing the risk of skin cancer and ageing skin prematurely. Whilst UVB is responsible for unsightly sunburn, overexposure to UVA is known to penetrate the skin at a deeper cellular level and is associated with wrinkling, leathering, sagging and other light-induced effects of skin ageing.
To ensure we are protecting our skin to the best of our abilities it is imperative to get into the routine of using a natural sunscreen but in addition, research indicates that certain foods, beverages and supplements can increase the skins ability to protect itself against UV damage. Studies have shown that consuming a dietary fish oil supplement reduces UVB sensitivity, whilst including antioxidant rich dark leafy greens such as spinach and swiss chard into our diets can inhibit the harsh effects of sun exposure . Moreover, a recent study conducted at the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical center found that green tea can assist in the prevention of non-melanoma skin cancer through its ability to enhance DNA repair.
Here at Content we are firm believers that everything should be enjoyed in moderation, so whilst its perfectly okay to enjoy the suns warming rays this Summer, keep in mind that a little goes a long way and heed the following tips for a sun-smart Summer.....
- Three's The Rule- Cover up, stay out of the sun during the peak hours of 11am and 3pm and use a sunscreen.
- Think ahead - Apply your sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun to give it time to settle into the skin.
- It pays to be generous – It doesn’t work when it’s still in the bottle! People regularly underestimate how much sunscreen they need to use, which affects the protection level. As a guide it should take around 2 tablespoons of sunscreen to cover the body.
- Forget the math - It’s all about application. As a consumer, SPF ratings are confusing. It is logical to assume that a SPF 30 gives twice the protection of and SPF 15. But in fact an SPF 15 product blocks about 94% of UVB rays; an SPF 30 product blocks 97% of UVB rays; and an SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of rays. The important point, no matter the rating, is the frequency of application. Reapply at least once every two hours - you may be sweating it off in the heat or washing it off in the sea.