by Sam Larkin
SPF - What does it mean
SPF – what does it mean?
Believe it or not, my parents have told me that when they were growing up – people used to try and literally fry their skin by rubbing oil onto it in order to obtain a tan! Thankfully, we have moved on from that practice and now spend a lot of time trying to protect our skin from early ageing and cancer. My family and I all have very fair skin, so matter how hard we try, we rarely obtain a tan and often end up with red patches – I could show you some real corkers of photos but daren’t as no one would speak to me! So understanding what SPF means and what I should look for in products has always been very important to me?
What does SPF mean?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor – the numbers you see on products describe the strength of a product's ability to protect against sunburn – if applied and re-applied correctly. I’m often asked – what level of sun protection should I use… like with everything else in life our skin is very individual and hence a face to face consultation is always recommended – that said, I personally would never use any product with less than SPF30 and more often than not use SPF50.
What is UVA & UVB?
The sunlight that reaches us is made up of two types of harmful rays: long wave ultraviolet A (UVA) and short wave ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis, the skin's thickest layer. UVA rays penetrate farther into skin than UVB rays, steadily destroying key substances in skin that give it its firmness and elasticity. UVA rays are a leading cause of wrinkles and are a major contributor to every type of skin cancer. One more difference.
Sunlight is essential for many important bodily functions, yet too much sun exposure can also be harmful, hence SPF is vital. Sunscreens work because they contain filters that reflect, scatter, or absorb UV radiation that otherwise would reach your skin. There are two distinct types of sunscreens used in skincare - physical (also known as inorganic) and chemical (also known as organic). Both types of filters absorb UV rays, converting them into heat energy. Everyone, regardless of skin type, should wear sunscreen, because we are all at risk of the adverse effects of UV radiation and can benefit from protection. Wearing SPF during the darker months is as important as wearing it throughout the summer months.
What I would recommend
For me personally, it is important that the sunscreen is lightweight, non-greasy and looks and feels good on my skin – I currently use a product that has a slight hint of a tint, so gives my skin a nice glow whilst protecting it at the same time.It is important however to share that using make-up as the sole form of SPF is very unlikely to provide you with the right level of SPF.
Brands that we recommend at NuYu are Obagi Sun Shield Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 50, Medik8 PHYSICAL SUNSCREEN™ Anti-Pollution Broad Spectrum SPF 30, Heliocare Gelcream Colour Light SPF 50 and SunSense Daily Face SPF 50+