What doctors say about SPF...

What doctors want you to know....STAY SMART THIS SUMMER!


Ever get the feeling that your bit in the dark to which sun screen works the best? or what factor sun screen you need?...I guess its a little like the internet, we don't really have a grasp of how it all works do we?We go to the shop, get what looks good and hope for the best...right?


We rounded up a few top skin experts to bust some myths about sunscreen and get to the bottom of how you can really keep skin safe this summer.


Stay smart this summer :)

Did you know....


There's a difference between UVA and UVB?

Cosmetic doctor Liesel Holler told us, 'The sun emits ultraviolet radiation in the form of UVA and UVB. UVB are the burning rays that damage the superficial layers of the skin causing sunburn. These are the ones you can thank when you're in agony trying to put your bra strap on your bright red shoulders. They also play a key role in the development of skin cancer."


UVA rays penetrate your skin much deeper, causing skin ageing and DNA damage, which leads to skin cancer. "In the past, UVA was considered less harmful than UVB (which causes direct DNA damage), but today UVA is known to contribute to skin cancer via indirect DNA damage. Several studies suggest that the absence of UVA filters may be the cause of the higher incidence of melanoma found in sunscreen users compared to non-users."


So you need a 'broad spectrum' sunscreen

"SPF is a measure of how well a sunscreen will protect skin from those UVB rays," said Dr Dehaven, Clinical Director of iS Clinical. But SPF gives no indication of the level of all-important UVA protection. For that you need to look at the UVA star system, which should be on the back of your bottle. These stars (ranging from 0-5) will tell you the percentage of UVA radiation absorbed by your sunscreen. The British Association of Dermatologists states that a SPF30 sunscreen with UVA rating of 4-5 stars is considered a good standard of sun protection.


A higher factor doesn't always mean higher protection

Always reach for factor one billion and feel smug? Think again. "Sunscreens with really high SPFs, such as SPF 75 or SPF 100, do not offer significantly greater protection than SPF 30 and mislead people into thinking they have more protection than they actually do. In fact, SPF30 blocks 97% of UVB rays and SPF50 blocks 98%,"


Fake tan and SPF don't mix

"The primary ingredient in self tanning products is a chemical called Dihydroxyacetone (DHA). DHA works by creating a chemical reaction on your skin (which turns you that delightful shade of builders brew)."


"DHA is such a strong chemical it attacks other chemicals it's formulated with. If you were to formulate a broad-spectrum sunscreen and put DHA in there, it would leave the factory and pass all tests. It would have its SPF and it would have its UVA but over 2-3 weeks that DHA would destroy the UVA protection."


"If you're marketing a product as a fake tan but you add an SPF, you don't even have to bother with the UVA because you're not marketing it as sun protection. It's being marketed as fake tan with an added benefit."


SO BASICALLY....Fake tan the night before, or a couple of days before your holiday. As long as you don't fake tan on the same day, your regular broad-spectrum sunscreen will work just fine.


'Photostability' is a thing

Photostability refers to a product's ability to not break down in the sun....so if photostable, it shouldn't break down. But that doesn't mean you only need to apply it once: "It still needs to be reapplied because there are other factors involved.


So what are these other factors? "You swim, you shower, and you towel-dry, all of which remove your sunscreen." Yep, but what if you just lie, inert with a Margarita in one hand? "You sweat".


Basically there is no getting away with it. You need to reapply every two hours, every 30 minutes if you're in hot, humid conditions (so Mexico, Hawaii, the Far East). And by the way…even if it says your sunscreen is 'water resistant' on the label, you have 40 minutes of protection once you're wet. You've been warned.


Spray sunscreens aren't always a good idea

Spray sunscreens sound like a godsend. However, aerosol sunscreens contain a lot of alcohol, which, says Dr Marko "breaks down photostability and dries out your skin just when you need hydration most". Avoiding it altogether in sunscreen is almost impossible. Just stear clear of products that feature alcohol among the first few ingredients in the formula (unless it's a San Miguel bottle) and check the label when it comes to aerosols, gels and anything that claims to be 'cooling'.


Tan-optimising supplements might do more harm than good

Tan-boosting pills are often touted as pre-holiday cheat's way of ensuring a bronzed glow. "I don't see the point of increasing melanin production, which is actually a sign of skin damage. It doesn't make any sense to me", said Dr Marko, and if it doesn't make any sense to a man who has a phD in skin cancer and over 20 years of clinical experience, it's wise to avoid.


You can find a sunscreen that doesn't give you spots...yayy!

When it comes to SPF-induced breakouts. "It's not really the UV filter itself that causes spots, its more how the cream is formulated around the filter. Avoid creams that have a greasy texture and don't sink into your skin after a couple of minutes. A good starting point is any sunscreen that states 'oil free' on the bottle." So we guess using the same sunscreen for your body, as your face is a no, no? "I haven't found any body sunscreens that I would recommend to my patients on their face". Two sunscreens it is then.

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