As Australians, the importance of applying sunscreen daily has been drilled into us since we were children. However, UV radiation remains one of the leading causes of degenerative ageing of the skin, as well as more serious issues such as skin cancer. We spoke to Prof Sanchia Aranda, CEO of Cancer Council Australia to explain how much havoc the sun is actually wreaking on your skin and why sunscreen is the key skin care product you should be using. Plus, everything you need to know about the new and improved facial SPF products that are full of skin loving ingredients, work perfectly under makeup and won’t cause a breakout.
So, what is the sun actually doing to my skin?
There are two types of UV rays from the sun that are damaging to the skin, UVA and UVB. “UVA rays penetrate deeply into the skin causing genetic damage to cells and photo-ageing (wrinkling and blotchiness). UVB rays penetrate the top layer of the skin, causing damage to cells, [as well as] causing the redness you get from sunburn and playing a key role in the development of skin cancer,” says Aranda. “As a result, the sun is one of the biggest contributors to degenerative ageing of the skin, which results in wrinkling, and loss of skin tone and elasticity, as it also breaks down collagen. It is believed as much as 80% of premature facial ageing, such as wrinkles and fine lines – is due to sun exposure,” explains Aranda.
What should I be doing about it?
Along with the use of clothing, hats, sunglasses and shade, wearing sunscreen plays a crucial role in protecting your skin from the sun, especially when the UV index is 3 or above or if you’re going to be exposed to sun for prolonged periods. (Top tip: you can find the UV index in the Apple Weather app on your phone.) But what is sunscreen actually doing for your skin, you ask? Well, SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. This relates to the amount of time it takes for redness to appear on the skin, compared to when no product is used at all. “For example, if it takes 10 minutes for unprotected skin to show redness, then [skin with] an SPF30 sunscreen, correctly applied, in theory will take 30 times longer, or 300 minutes to burn,” says Aranda. However, due to factors such as skin type, UV levels, swimming, drying and how much sunscreen you apply, it is always recommends to use other sun protection methods too, such as wearing a hat, sunglasses and sitting in the shade.
How do I make sure I am properly protected?
The first step to making sure you’re protected is to ensure you’re wearing a broad spectrum SPF30 or higher on your face. Your face is the one of the most exposed parts of your body, so protecting it when the UV index is 3 or above is crucial. “The higher a product’s SPF the more UVB radiation it filters. Sunscreens labelled broad spectrum are also protective against UVA,” says Aranda. The most common mistake that is made with sunscreen however is not wearing enough and not reapplying often enough. Cancer Council recommends applying at least one teaspoon for each limb, and one teaspoon for the face, neck and ears, as well as remembering to reapply throughout the day.
What is the easiest way to incorporate this into my routine?
You probably think of sunscreen as a thick, sticky formula that makes your face ghostly white, but that’s actually a thing of the past. There have been huge developments in sunscreen over the last few years, which has seen in the introduction of facial sunscreens with lightweight textures, a variety of finishes and, skin care benefits. This means, there is a now a formula to suit pretty much every lifestyle; whether you prefer UV protection in your anti-ageing moisturiser, want to wear it under, or as, your makeup, or even want to re-apply throughout the day without having to re-do your makeup, sunscreen is more wearable than ever.
Cancer Council is just one of the brands whose new formulations are making it easier than ever to incorporate a facial sunscreen into your daily beauty routine; ultra lightweight, non-greasy with a matte finish, dermatologically tested and containing skin loving ingredients, the Face Day Wear Moisturiser SPF50+ or BB Cream are perfect options to protect your skin without interfering with your chosen beauty look. These formulas also provide broad-spectrum protection (we know why that’s important now) and are available in tinted and non-tinted options (in light and medium shades), so there’s really no excuse to not apply sunscreen on your face.
Beauty editor’s tip: if opting for the moisturiser, apply it after your serum and eye cream and before makeup in the morning. However, if you’re using the tinted option or BB cream, it’s perfect for going sans foundation, providing fresh-faced coverage and SPF protection in one. Hello summer!
Did you learn anything you didn’t already know about sunscreen? Is there anything else you would like to know?