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Make SPF part of your skincare routine

Make SPF part of your skincare routine

More than just a beach day essential, SPF should always be a part of your daily routine – no matter where you’re headed

March 03, 2021
Photography - Elvin Fernandez
Contributor - Amy Wilkinson-Lough
Make SPF part of your skincare routine

We’ve been conditioned to believe a list of myths around sunscreen from when to wear it, to what it’s for and whom it’s for. But here’s a rude awakening for you – the truth is, it’s not just for holidays and pale, sensitive skin – it’s for everyone, to wear everywhere, to protect against much more than cancer and sunburn. The fact of the matter is that a whopping 90% of how your skin will age comes down to how you protect it from sun exposure.

Sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which consists of two types of rays. Both UVA and UVB rays can cause both short-term and long-term skin damage such as pigmentation (dark spots), fine lines, melasma and pre mature aging in addition to cancer and sunburn. If going without SPF means an open invitation to ageing prematurely, why the h*ll anyone is skipping out on this extremely important step in their skincare routine is beyond us. Cast your eyes below for the 101 on the what and why of SPF – sun protection factor.

Make SPF part of your skincare routine

What is UV radiation?

UV radiation is a form of electromagnetic energy, which can come from natural sources, such as sunlight, as well as artificial sources such as black lights, lasers and tanning beds – please do not tell us you’re still using a tanning bed. Of course, the sun is the most significant source of UV radiation with rays classified according to wavelength: UVA, the longest wavelength, UVB, medium length and less commonly discussed, UVC, which is the shortest in wavelength. So, what does that mean for you? Let’s dig deeper into the A, B, C’s of UV radiation…

UVC Rays:

Meanwhile you're least likely to come in contact with UVC radiation, you can't go wrong with having an understanding of its impact on your body when contact is made. As UVC rays are the shortest, UVC radiation from the sun does not reach the earth’s surface because it is blocked by the ozone layer in the atmosphere. The only way that humans can be exposed to UVC radiation is from an artificial source like a lamp or laser. Always avoid direct skin exposure to UVC radiation and never look directly into a UVC light source, even briefly, as serious damage can follow.

UVB Rays:

Responsible for sunburn, darkening and thickening of the outer layer of the skin, melanoma and other types of skin cancer, UVB rays can only be blocked by SPF – the higher the SPF, the greater the protection. UVB rays have shorter wavelengths and higher energy levels, damaging the outermost layers of the skin and typically causing sunburn when exposed for longer periods of time. UVB rays directly damage DNA and cause most skin cancers.

UVA Rays:

Penetrating the skin much deeper than UVB rays, UVA rays have a bad rep for affecting cells deeper in the skin. Please address your thank you notes for wrinkles to UVA rays. You may not feel the damage as it’s being done, however UVA rays are responsible for long-term damage and cause indirect damage to DNA. UVA rays can penetrate windows and clouds – which is why wearing a sunscreen even when you are cooped up indoors or in your car is just as important as wearing it outside. BRB as I go reapply before sitting back down at the desk in front of the window.

How to protect your skin:

If we haven’t hammered home this point already – the answer to saving your skin is to wear sunblock with an SPF of 30 or higher on a daily basis. Sure, foundations, some concealers and powders may have SPF of 15 to 30 included, however this does not excuse the importance of slathering on the first line of defense at the start of every day – sunblock.

Keep in mind that even smart devices give off a harmful high-energy visible light (HEV), otherwise known as blue light, which can lead to dryness, irritation and early signs of ageing. By opting for a mineral-based sunscreen, you’re sure to cover all of your bases by protecting your skin from all kinds of light, due to their key ingredients such as zinc oxide that forms a protective seal over the skin to reflect away blue light UVA and UVB rays. And here you thought you only needed to purchase a pair of blue light blocking glasses for work, ha!

Save your skin...

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