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What is SPF & Why is it an Essential Skincare?
What is SPF & Why is it an Essential Skincare?


Mar 3, 2022

Published By:

Este Medical Group

Who doesn’t love a bit of sun? Isn’t that why so many of us are drawn to taking holidays overseas where the promise of extra sunlight is always much more likely to happen than on a staycation in the UK? You can bask in hours of glorious daylight, get your hit of vitamin D and then some, and come back all-aglow.

What’s not to love? Well, we’re here to tell you...

What is SPF?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. When you’re looking at a tube of sun cream, you’ll also notice that after SPF there’s always a number like 10, 25, and 50 for example. So, the sun protection factor or - SPF meaning – is that the higher the number – the better protection you have from the sun.

The sun has two different types of rays – UVA and UVB and they both damage your skin in slightly different ways. You can remember that UVA is responsible for the ‘ageing’ element, and UVB rays for ‘burning’.

Both types of UV rays can contribute to skin cancer so it’s vital to protect your skin from them as best you can. We’re talking all year round, not just on the days you’re hitting the beach.

When do I need to use SPF?

If you want to keep your skin healthy and youthful, you might be surprised to hear that you should be using an SPF daily – especially when you’re spending prolonged periods of time outdoors.

That’s because, even in the UK, the sun’s rays can still damage your skin. That means even if it’s grey and dreary overhead, the sun’s rays are still able to work their way through these conditions and down to your skin.

Annoying, right?

SPF isn’t just for beach breaks. If you’re going on a walking holiday, a skiing trip, a road journey, you really should be applying SPF to your exposed skin every day.

It’s easy to find a decent daily SPF for face as there are so many products available to buy. Just make sure the sun cream you’re investing in protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. This is indicated by it offering ‘broad-spectrum’ UV protection.

Who needs to use SPF?

SPF should be used by absolutely everyone – no matter your skin tone. Even if you don’t burn, your skin is still being gradually damaged by the sun’s rays. If you’re wondering, ‘what SPF should I use?’ the higher the SPF the better.

UVA rays can reach your skin even through glass windows, so don’t think you’re safe from them when you’re simply sitting inside by the window.

Is SPF 15 enough? Well, this level of sun protection will ward off 93% of UVB rays from the sun. An SPF 30, meanwhile, will protect you from 97% of UVB rays, while (take a bow), SPF 50 will keep 98% of UVB rays clear. We know which one we’d choose.

Why is SPF important?

SPF is vital to ensure your skin is protected from the sun’s radiation. If your skin is overexposed to the sun’s rays, then you are at increased risk of -

  • Premature ageing of the skin
  • Sun damage
  • Sun burn
  • Skin cancer

We don’t need to tell you that none of the above are any fun.

How about SPF for sensitive skin?

If you’re worried that your skin is too sensitive for an SPF for face, then think again. There are loads of SPF products out there that cater to different skin sensitivities.

If you suffer from breakouts, then the best SPF for acne prone skin would be one that is non-comedogenic and mineral based. It’s the same if you’re looking for an SPF for oily skin. Look for mattifying sun creams that won’t clog and cake your face.

Brands like Vichy, Avene, and La Roche Posay all create sun creams that work well as a daily SPF for face.

Does SPF affect tanning?

Ok sun worshippers, this is the bad bit. Yes, SPF does affect tanning. But you know what? Tanning isn’t good for your skin. If you want to keep yourself looking young and wrinkle-free then you shouldn’t be aiming for a tan.

Keep yourself and your skin safe by cheating a tan with a decent fake tan product instead. No health risks, no sand in bits you’d rather not, just a quick glow-up with none of the bad UV rays. Get those paper knickers ready!

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