SPF....Know what it means? How it works? When to reapply? Do you know what number SPF to use? What about the best ingredients? Well folks, lucky I'm here to explain it all for you.
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It takes about 10-15 minutes for our un-protected skin to burn when exposed to the sun. Yes, it's sad, but it's that quick due to the ripper of a hole in the ozone layer over our heads. An SPF 15 for instance, would give us 15 times the protection. Let's do the math: 10 minutes for the skin to burn, so SPF15 x 10mins = 150mins = 2.5 hours protection from the sun. But that's only provided you apply it properly in the first place and does not take into account sweating or swimming.
Fun fact: You need at least a handful to cover your entire body. Like, a proper handful and you would need to reapply every 2 hours to be fully protected.
Secondly, we need to discuss UV rays. There are 3 types, UV-A, B and C. The best way to remember them is A for ageing, B for burning and C for cancer. Thankfully, UVC does not make it to the ground due to reactions in the atmosphere.
Fun fact: Anywhere you can see light, means UVA is present. Our skins are constantly battling against UV-Ageing damage.
Now for some science...types of SPF and their active ingredients. There are 2 types of sunscreen - physical and chemical. For those of you know me, you'll already know which one I would lean in to.... Physical SPF's use the active ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide (essentially crushed rocks), to place a physical protective layer on our skin, which stops it from burning. The sunlight hits our skin and is reflected away by the zinc and titanium. Hooray, job done!
Cool facts - both of these ingredients are anti-inflammatory.
The other type is a chemical sunscreen. If you take a look at the back of your SPF and you note anything other than zinc or titanium as the active ingredients, you will also have chemical blockers in your SPF (often prefixed with "oct", "oxy" or "avo"). Now, these guys will still do the job, but they in fact draw the UV rays into the skin, where they are neutralized and unfortunately in the process, create free radicals. Free radicals cause a lot of damage to our otherwise healthy skin cells in the deeper layers of our skins. Not what we want.
Fun fact - when you hear the word anti-oxidant, it's usually with the word 'free radical'. Anti-
oxidants fight free radicals. Think blueberries, spinach, beets, vitamin E...
SPF30 will give the skin 97.3% protection from UV radiation. SPF50 is 97.8% protection from UV radiation. There's not much of a difference really...
Fun fact: SPF30 can be reached using physical blockers alone, but an SPF50 is guaranteed to be using chemical as well.
Takeaway: Choose an SPF 30 ensuring the active ingredients are ONLY zinc and/or titanium. Apply liberally every 2hrs to be safe in the sun. (Oh, and wear a broad brimmed hat and sunnies). Drop me a line if you want any further info. Kx.