Lovely summer, we wear sandals, skater skirt, sleeveless dress, shorts and oversized floppy hat. Then, what does our skin wear in summer? Sunscreen may be the simple answer. We, smart ladies, shall learn more.
What does sunlight do to our skin?
Sunlight is a combination of 3 types of rays – infrared, visible lights and ultraviolet. Thanks to the natural world. The ozone layer absorbs most of toxic lights. However ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) penetrate cloud and glass and deep into our skin, causes skin cell damages and premature aging. UVB penetrates into the outer layer of the skin epidermis and damages the cells causing the skin to be inflamed or sunburnt. UVA penetrates more deeply into second layer of skin dermis causing direct damage to supporting tissues leading to ageing effects. Both types of rays are attributed to causing different skin cancers.
How can we read labels right?
SPF stands for “sun protection factor” which represents the length of time you can stay in the sun protecting from UVB. SPF 15 means a person who normally (without sunscreen) would turn red after 10 minutes of sun exposure would take 150 minutes (10 x 15) to turn red. Remember, this does not mean you can stay in the sun for 150 minutes. Red is the one of the symptoms that our skin cells have been damaged. Never risks our skin.
SPF rating system applies to UVB rays only. We need protecting from UVA also which causes of skin premature aging. In the revised EU guidelines for sunscreens products, this should be a UVA seal which requires providing consumers with a minimum level of UVA protection in relation to at least 1/3 of the SPF.
In US, FDA requires the phrase “BROAD SPECTRUM” which will provide protection from both UVA and UVB. Therefore, we are not looking for a SPF product only and also the UVA seal or the phrase “BROAD SPECTRUM”.
Is SPF 30 better than SPF 15? SPF 15 will filter out about 93% of UVB rays and SPF 30 filters out about 97%. In Europe regulations, manufacturers are limited to claiming SPF 50+; in Australia it is even more restrictions for maximum claiming of 30+, while in the US, it is no particular restrictions.
How do sunscreens work?
The main ingredients of a sunscreen product are the UV-filters. UV-filters work in one of two ways: (1) absorbing the UV-light by ‘soaking it up’ like thousands of tiny sponge soaks up water or (2) reflecting the UV-light away from the skin like thousands of tiny mirrors. Absorbing filters, also called chemical or organic filters, soak up UV-light then converting it into lower energy and safer infrared light. Reflecting filters, also called mineral or inorganic filters, are commonly used together with absorbing filters to get more efficient results. Different UV-filters tend to be effective against different wavelengths of UV-light, therefore most sunscreens products include several different UV-filters to provide a broad spectrum of protection, high SPF value and UVA seals.
Many of UV-filters will not dissolve in water, therefore sunscreens must contain large amount of oil ingredients to help dissolve the UV-filters which make people feeling oily and greasy.
3-rule must be followed to ensure the SPF and UVA seals works.
- Use 15 to 30 minutes in advance (get the UV-filters ready to work)
- Apply a thick layer; 1/4 to 1/3 of a teaspoon for face and 6 teaspoons (golf ball size) for body; Some studies found that people apply only half of the amount required and leaving your skin unprotected.
- Re-apply every 2 or 3 hours; The sunscreen layer will be worn off and/or fully soaked of the UV-light.
Are UV-filters toxic our skin?
Based on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) scores, I summarized following table of UV-filters against different level of toxicity concerns.
|UV-filters with higher toxicity concerns||UV-filters with moderate toxicity concerns||UV-filters with lower toxicity concerns|
|Octinoxate (Octylmethoxycinnamate)||Octisalate||Zinc Oxide|
Avoid vitamin A and related ingredients
EWG recommends that we have to avoid sunscreens and other skin and lip products containing vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, retinol, retinyl acetate, retinyl linoleate and retinoic acid – manufacturers believe these slow the skin aging. Studies found the possibility that these ingredients may speed the growth of cancerous tumor when used on skin exposed to sunlight.
Never expose to sunlight longer than necessary. Try to stay out of the sun between the hours of 10am to 4pm. The longer we are outside, the longer our skin suffered from UV-lights. No matter how – do not let SPF, UVA, hat – fool us into thinking we can stay out in the sun longer.
Staying under shade, such as a tree or umbrella, can reduce our sunlight exposure, but not completely. Only very broad and thick shade such as thickly wooded areas and widely overhanging structures provide enough protection explained by British Association of Dermatologists.
We can select dark-coloured, synthetic fabrics, close weave and dry clothing (fabrics get wet, their protection can be halved).
- Oversized sunglasses
Please remember to check your sunglasses with ‘real’ sun protection. Remember that the UV-protective chemical on sunglasses is invisible, so the colour of the lens not an indication of protecting. Label must clearly state the following labelling.
- “CE Mark” and British Standard (BS EN 1836:1997)
- UV400 (it means the sunglasses blocks up to 400 nm of UV-light)
- 100% UV protection written on the label or sticker
Hats are great for protecting our face, ears, eyes and head and back of the neck. So choose a wide-brimmed hat for most protection. Baseball caps are not a good choice.
Nice thick layer sunscreen can sit on our face and protect from UV-lights. National Institute for Health and Care recommends a minimum of SPF 15 and UVA seals in the UK. And don’t forget our lips.
Obviously, sunscreen is not nutrients, so wisely prevent the higher toxicity concerns UV-filters. As sunscreen works as a cover on my face, I always apply my prestigious skin care products, Glamour Ageless and Silk Miracle Essence well before any sunscreen. I don’t like mixing UV-filters with those precious ingredients that blocking the benefits sinking into my skin.
Thanks so much for reading my post. If you like this post, you may also like Silk Amino Acid is a super-ingredient.,