With temperatures set to soar to 30°C by the middle of the week, we spoke to our very own Dr Firas Al-Niaimi (Group Medical Director of sk:n) to find out everything you need to know when purchasing sunscreens.
“The skin absorbs both UVA and UVB wavelengths which can cause harm to the skin,” Dr Firas tells us. He continues, “We obviously need to protect the skin from UVA and UVB, but we need to maximise protection for the latter.” This is where sunscreen comes in… Choosing the right sun protection can seem like a minefield. With so much choice available, what are the key factors which should determine which one ends up in your basket?
Dr Firas recommends wearing at least
SPF 30 “Research has showed that SPF 30 gives us good protection, while SPF 50 gives the best protection.”
What type of sunscreen you choose will depend on a variety of things, for example, those with a hairy body may favour a spray sunscreen as opposed to a cream. People with darker skin tones may prefer to wear a lower SPF, compared to paler skin types who may look for a higher SPF.
Many people opt for combined products such as foundations or daily moisturisers containing SPF and whilst this may seem like a convenient short cut do these products offer adequate protection? Dr Firas believes so, but he does advise that you use a separate sun protection should you need a higher SPF rating. "The limitation in the fixed combination is the fixed concentration you get. If you need a higher (or lower) concentration of a particular component then it makes more sense to use separate products." He also points out that combination formulas may contain more preservatives and therefore may be more irritating for the skin – something to consider if you have particularly sensitive skin.
There are many products on the market that claim to offer all day protection from just one application. Dr Firas doesn’t doubt the technology of the products themselves but stresses that premature removal of the application is often unavoidable and you therefore should not assume that just one application per day is enough to stop your skin from burning.
Another common misconception regarding sun protection is that waterproof sunscreens do not need to be reapplied after going for a dip. Dr Firas concludes that they should be topped up after a swim and The British Association of Dermatologists agree: "It is important to remember that the majority of us do not apply sunscreen appropriately. We often apply sunscreen too thinly, at insufficient intervals and tend to miss sections of difficult to reach areas, such as the back. When sun protection products are tested for protection ratings they are applied correctly (liberally and regularly).” We should therefore follow the same practice in order to be afforded the full strength of protection.
Whilst this may sound obvious, the best way to stay safe in the sun is to change your behaviour. Dr Firas recommends avoiding sunbathing during intense hours of sunlight, particularly midday, wearing a hat and covering up to avoid UV damage.
If you are worried about existing sun damage, or you want some specific advice tailored to your skin, then book your free skin analysis and consultation today by calling 0121 641 6000