The market is flooded with thousands of products claiming to reverse the signs of ageing; however, not a lot of emphasis is put on the humble sunscreen.
This topical product can not only protect from the harmful rays of the sun that produce skin cancers, it can also prevent your skin from developing pigmentation and premature ageing.
Why use sunscreen?
Sunscreen is used to block the sun’s rays from damaging the skin.
There are different types of UV radiation. UVA radiation penetrates deep into the skin, affecting the living skin cells that lie under the skin’s surface. UVA causes long-term damage like wrinkles and blotchiness. Your skin can appear dull and grey with a ‘leathered texture’.
UVB radiation penetrates the top layer of skin and is the main cause of skin damage and skin cancer. Broad-spectrum sunscreen filters both UVA and UVB radiation.
When the skin is not protected, UVB and UVA can cause your skin to burn and then peel which is a sign that there is DNA damage to the skin cells.
With two in three Australians likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70, the daily use of sunscreen has been proven to decrease the development of skin cancers.
How does sunscreen work?
Sunscreen contains ingredients that absorb UV radiation. There are two different types of sunscreen ingredients, physical and chemical blockers.
Physical ingredients such as Zinc and Titanium Dioxide, sit on the surface of the skin and acts as a mirror, reflecting the rays off the skin, though when the skin is wiped, these ingredients can be removed and protection is compromised.
Chemical ingredients are absorbed by the surface layers of the skin and they chemically change the harmful rays of the sun so that they don’t cause damage to the skin cells.
Some of these ingredients can also be water resistant. This is why it is important to reapply your sunscreen every two hours when out in the direct sun.
A little tip: every time you can see your shadow from the sun, there is UV exposure to your skin.
What does SPF mean?
The sun protection factor (SPF) is a measure of protection sunscreen gives against UVB radiation. The highest SPF for sunscreen available in Australia is SPF50+.
The SPF number is only a guide to a sunscreen’s protection. In laboratory conditions, used as directed, SPF 30 sunscreen filters 96.7% of UV radiation and SPF50 filters 98%.
Your skin care routine.
Sunscreen is the most important product to include as part of your skin care routine. Without this topical product, you are undoing all the hard work of your other skin care products and in-clinic treatments.
Sunscreen is ideally applied after your morning serums and moisturiser but before your foundation or other make-up. There are a lot of skin care products on the market that have sunscreen included, but a stand-alone sunscreen is still recommended for optimal protection.
Remember, sunscreen is the last line of defence after clothing, a hat, sunglasses and seeking shade.
Not only is applying daily sunscreen reducing your risk of skin cancers, it is helping with reducing the signs of ageing and is a very important part of your skin care routine. And remember to check the expiry date of your sunscreen as over time, the product may not work as well.
How to apply sunscreen.
Whether you chose a cream, lotion, milk or gel is really personal preference. Choose one that you find easily to apply.
Using a generous amount of sunscreen is the key. The average-sized adult needs a teaspoon of sunscreen for their head and neck, each limb and for the front and back of the body. That’s about 35ml for one full body application.
Apply your sunscreen 20 minutes before you go outside.
We find most people apply too little sunscreen and forget to apply every two hours.
Sunscreen has been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of melanoma and other skin cancers. It is also important to have a regular skin cancer and mole check. At Australian Skin Face Body, you do not need a referral to see a GP experienced in skin cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment.
For more information on sun protection, ask the expert dermal team at Australian Skin Face Body.
As appeared in Ballarat Lifestyle Magazine, Summer 2017