Catching some Vitamin D rays is one of my favourite past times (and a great way to recharge and relax!) yet, I’ll never expose myself to the sun without wearing proper sun protection with UVA/UVB, as I want to ensure my skin health is optimal, has longevity, radiance and glow (so I can age gracefully, duh!). It’s so important to educate yourself on being SunSmart, not just for summer time and beach days, but for every day – sunny, rainy, snowy and windy.
Not sure what the difference between a UVA and a UVB sun protection is? And why would you need to wear SPF (Sun Protection Factor) even if it’s not a sunny day? I’ll tell you why…
Let’s break it down:
Exposure to ultra violet radiation (UVR) is a well documented health hazard. The ultraviolet spectrum is divided into the following key regions (without going in to the hardcore science…) UVC, UBV, UVAII and UVAI. The ozone layer protects humans from damage against UVC rays, but not UBV and UVA rays. UVB rays are known for causing burning, while UVA rays are now known for causing photo-aging. Photo-aging is the term given to damage to the skin caused by the sun. What is this photo-aging damage I speak of? Well, it includes wrinkles, dark blotches, freckles, leathery texture, and loss of elasticity – all the things we want to dodge so we don’t end up looking older than we are!
UVA rays penetrate the skin’s surface, invading the layers below and eventually destroying the collagen and elastin that give skin it’s firm, plump texture and elasticity. So as you can see, it’s paramount to ensure your SPF is also UVA and UVB protecting.
The other element to be aware of when talking about sun protection is to understand the difference between sunscreen and sunblock. Any sunscreen protection product with an SPF of 2 or higher is considered a sunscreen, and any sun product that contains a physical sunscreen ingredient and an SPF of 12 or higher is considered a sunblock.
There is only one sunscreen and sunblock ingredient that protects against all three types of ultraviolet radiation, and that is zinc oxide. Of course though, when we are talking about sun protection, in reality we are also talking about chemicals. The skin health industry labels ingredients used as either chemical or physical. Understanding the difference is determined by how the ingredients behave on the skin. Chemical sun protection ingredients typically are absorbed into the epidermis, where as physical ingredients lie on top of the skin’s surface and are not absorbed. Majority of companies who create sun protection that is worth having have found a way to combine the two to maximize on the functionality of the sun protection on the skin.
Whoa! To specific? I’m a big believer in always having to much information at my fingertips, so take in what you can, and use it as you see fit. I have come across some favourite SPF’s, all of which are incredibly high standard of formulation to ensure full sun protection, and as they are the new generation technologies they don’t leave that usual trademark white zinc oxide paste on the skin when applied – no need to go out looking like a pro cricket player in the quest for beautiful skin.
What are my favourite SPF’s you ask? Have a look at Medik8 Physical Sunscreen & Dr Moy’s DNA Defence SPF (I go with the medium tint, but it comes in light and sheer).