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As thoughts turn towards possible summer holidays, be that in the UK or overseas, one item that is a ‘must’ in your suitcase is a good quality sunscreen particularly for your face. Sunscreen otherwise known as sunblock is important for protection against UVA and UVB sunlight damage to the skin.  Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to dealing with problems caused by too much ultraviolet radiation from sun exposure.

A word on the science of photoaging. Sunlight contains radiation that is harmful to skin. The components we need to be concerned about are known as UVA, UVB and blue light radiation. UVA rays produce immediate tanning, sunburn and premature ageing as well as wrinkles in the skin.  UVB produces delayed tanning as well as sunburn and in some people will cause skin cancer. UVB also contributes to photoaging. In addition blue light which comes as part of natural sunlight and is notably present from computer screens causes similar photoageing of the skin. Consider using a blue light filter such as Ocushield over the computer screen https://www.ocushield.com

A few myths about sun damage. One myth is that sunscreen application is only needed when the weather is sunny. Even when the weather is overcast up to up to 80% of the sun’s more damaging rays reach the earth’s surface and therefore our faces. If you work in front of a computer screen all day there is a small amount of radiation comes off them as well as from some indoor lighting systems so you will need to use sunscreen indoors as well as out. Regular glass does not filter out harmful rays so you will still need protection when sitting by the window or driving your car.

Many of my female patients tell me that they rely on the SPF 30 sunscreen in their makeup. This isn’t enough as studies have shown that one would have to apply much more of the foundation than is normally needed to achieve the SPF on the label. Therefore it’s better to apply a proper sunscreen before make up.

How best to use sunscreens Aim to apply a sunscreen product for your face every day. Remember the back of your hands which are also exposed and tend to be forgotten as one of the areas that show up skin ageing sooner rather than later. Some products will need reapplication after swimming, sweating heavy exercise or up to 2 hourly on a hot day to work at the protection level indicated.

Navigating the complex range of products available Different types of sunscreens work in different ways. There are two main types

  • Mineral sunscreen products contain either or both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide and tend to sit on the skin surface. This group of products are better for sensitive skins.
  • Chemical sunscreens soak into the skin and probably provide longer lasting protection between applications. Historically it has been easier to make lightweight formulas and are better for acne patients.

Both mineral and chemical sunscreens are available in matt, sheer and universal tinted versions.

As part of caring for your skin, particularly the facial area which suffers more sun damage, I am happy to advise on your particular requirements for sun protection and for skin care and other non-surgical interventions in general. I am a recognised advisor for both SkinCeuticals https://www.skinceuticals.co.uk/stores   and ZoSkinHealth https://zo-skinhealth.co.uk skin care systems and can prescribe according to your particular requirements. Online appointments currently available. https://www.vivienlees.co.uk/consultation/#