Do you know your UVAs from your UVBs? Let us explain and help you choose the right sun cream for you.
Whether you call it sun cream, sunscreen or sun tan lotion, we all know it is a must have for any summer holiday. There are so many to choose from, it can be tricky to know which one is best.
We have done the research for you and rounded up the 3 things you need to know about sun protection.
3 essential things to know about sun protection
It is important to make sure you are protected from UV (Ultraviolet) radiation. This reaches us in the form of both UVA and UVB rays. Both are damaging to our skin and have been scientifically linked to skin cancer.
1. UVA rays - A is for aging
UVA rays are present all year round at a consistent level and can cause skin damage. The UVA rays penetrate deeply into the skin which leads to brown spots and premature ageing, therefore it is important to consider UVA protection not only in high season but as part of our year round daily skincare.
How to read the UVA label
When shopping for your sun cream, look out for the UVA logo on the bottle. This shows the sun cream meets the EU requirements for how much UVA protection the product gives you.
UVA protection is measured by a star rating from 1-5. This shows how many UVA rays it's blocking, in relation to how many UVB rays.
Make sure you choose a sun cream with a 4 or 5 star rating to take the best care of your skin.
2. UVB rays - B is for burning
UVB rays are what cause our skin to burn and are the main cause of skin cancer. The levels of UVB rays vary, depending on location and time of day. The hotter the temperature, the more UVB rays there are.
What is SPF and how does it link to UVB?
According to a British Skin survey, over a third of Brits don’t actually know what SPF means, so what actually is it?
It stands for Sun Protection Factor and refers to the amount of UVB protection the cream provides. The number tells you how long it will take for your skin to burn, compared to using no sun protection.
For example, SP5 30 will protect your skin from burning for 30 times as long as it would without any sun cream.
Does a high SPF mean I am less likely to burn?
Not necessarily, no. There is a misunderstanding about SPF ratings. People assume that SPF 30 provides twice as much sun protection as SPF 15.
However, it is important to remember that no SPF provides you with 100% UVB protection.
SPF 30 will block about 97% of these rays, in comparison to SPF 15 blocking 93% and SPF 50 blocking 98%. People assume that SPF 50 has a much higher protection level than SPF 30, when as you can see there is little difference between them.
Which SPF and UVA star rating should I choose?
No suncare can provide 100% sun protection. However, you can still choose a sun cream that gives an excellent UVA and UVB protection. The higher the SPF, the more UVB protection, and the higher the UVA star rating, the better protection there is against UVA rays.
It is important to understand that a sun cream with SPF 50 and 2 UVA stars provides worse sun protection than a cream with SPF 30 and 5 UVA stars. Also, even sun creams with a low SPF can have a full 5-star UVA rating. This is because the ratio between the UVA and UVB ray protection is the same or similar.
So, it’s always recommended that you choose a sun cream with both a high SPF and UVA star rating, for the maximum level of sun protection.
3. Applying sun cream
In order to gain the most protection from your sun cream, you need to apply it correctly.
Experts recommend we use one teaspoon of sun cream per limb and always apply 30 minutes before going out in the sun. Don't forget your neck, face, tops of your feet and legs. Use a SPF lip balm to protect your lips.
Make sure you apply 30 minutes before going into the sun and don't forget to reapply every couple of hours and straight after swimming.
Sun protection kit for on the go
If you’re heading out for the day or to the beach or pool, make sure you create a sun protection kit to take with you.
Pack a sun cream for your body and one for your face if you prefer to use different creams. Remember a SPF lip balm and also a UV hair protector if you use one. To ensure your well and truly covered, put a timer on your phone for every 2 hours to ensure you re-apply.
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