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If you think sunscreen is just something you put on when you’re on holiday or sitting out in the sun, I need to stop you right there. Sunscreen is one of the most important things you can put on your face, as it has many benefits aside from protecting you from sunburn.
The SPF (sun protection factor) in sunscreen protects your skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, which can be incredibly harmful to your skin. There are two types of UV rays: UVA rays are the ones that cause you to tan, but can also cause premature skin ageing and wrinkles, and UVB rays, which cause sunburn and can lead people to develop skin cancer. SPF tells you how long it will take for the sun to affect your skin when wearing it – so wearing SPF 30 will take you 30 times longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen.
UV rays can penetrate through clouds, and still affect your skin when it’s winter. In an article from the World Health Organisation, they recommend an SPF of at least 15, and to re-apply it at least once every 2 hours, or after exercising outside. UV rays can also penetrate through glass, so it’s important to apply it even when not leaving the house.
This might sound like a lot, but there are numerous benefits to wearing sunscreen every day, especially on your face. It decreases the risk of skin cancer and contributes to anti-ageing, as prolonged exposure to UVA rays without protection can cause premature wrinkles.
Working SPF into your daily skincare routine is easy. You can either replace your moisturiser with one that contains SPF, or find a facial spray that you can wear alone or over makeup! And if you have oily skin, don’t worry about it clogging up your pores – you can either use a lightweight spray or a non-oily formula – Eucerin has an oil-control formula that’s factor 50+.
Sunscreen doesn’t have to be expensive, either. Always a classic, Garnier’s Ambre Solaire range has an array of both spray and fluid sunscreens especially for sensitive skin, with nothing dipping below factor 30. Other great sunscreen brands include Hawaiian Tropic (my personal favourite for their Airsoft Face cream) and good old Nivea.
Try not to forget about your lips, either – try and find lip balms that have SPF built into them! Otherwise, a hit with an SPF-filled facial spray will do the trick.
However, there are some pitfalls to sunscreen. The Environmental Working Group’s annual sunscreen guide discusses some of the issues of chemical sunscreen over natural sunscreen, highlighting common ingredients in chemical sunscreen, such as oxybenzone, which raises concerns about allergies and skin absorption. They also raise the point that consumers tend to misuse products with a higher SPF, such as staying in the sun for longer than they would if using a lower SPF product. Higher SPF products also have higher concentrations of sun-filtering chemicals in them, which may trigger allergic reactions. They recommend staying within the SPF30-50 range.
If you want a more eco-friendly option for sunscreen, there are some great options. While more expensive, they’re made from all-natural, vegan ingredients, making them more suitable for people with extra sensitive skin. Amazinc has a range of sunscreens, from sticks to butters, from SPF 10-50. Shade is a UK-based brand made of only 4 ingredients, using zinc oxide to protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays. While not vegan (it contains beeswax), it’s free from all perfumes, alcohol, and is never tested on animals. Their products are SPF 25, as they do not use chemical active ingredients in their products.
Wherever you get your sunscreen from, the most important thing is that you consistently wear it every day.