A GUIDE TO SPF

Image: @alexandra__sage


Written by Lucy Macdougald.


You've probably heard time and time again how important it is to always wear SPF, no matter how much time you're spending in the sun. The truth is, regardless of the climate, if you spend any time outside, it's crucial to apply SPF daily. The pain and discomfort associated with sun damage after a day at the beach can obviously be felt. However, the silent damage caused by sun exposure is a little harder to spot, that is, until it’s too late to rectify.




A recent NCBI study revealed up to 80% of skin ageing is caused by the sun’s rays. Whilst the sought-after golden glow can increase confidence and make you feel great, the cost to the skin can be felt long into the future. Sagging skin, premature ageing, sunspots, leathery skin and in some cases, the dreaded C-word are all results of lack of sun protection. But what’s more concerning is that often the damage is irreversible.


Whatever your primary skin concern, there’s one thing to be in no doubt about - sunscreen should be an essential part of your routine. Unfortunately understanding sunscreen can be confusing, especially since there are so many different brands and options available. Just remember that not all sunscreens are created equal. SPF protection levels, Broad-spectrum, Chemical versus Physical, UBV versus UVA – no wonder we’re all confused. If choosing a sunscreen is a minefield, here are some tips that will help you get fully protected...


UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL SUNSCREENS


Physical sunscreens sit on the skin and create – as the name suggests – a physical barrier between the skin and UV rays. Chemical sunscreens on the other hand differ because they absorb UV rays and penetrate into the deeper layers of skin.


Whilst chemical sunscreens are more easily absorbed and can create a smoother base for makeup, because the formula penetrates the skin, many of the ingredients can lead to breakouts, sensitivity and in some cases allergic reactions.


We understand there are pros and cons to both physical and chemical sunscreens but if you’re prone to sensitivity or if your goal is to reduce the toxic load on your skin, then I recommend physical sunscreens.


It’s also interesting to note that the higher the SPF in a chemical sunscreen, the more ingredient load the skin has to bear, simply because more chemicals are added. If you notice sensitivity after using higher protection chemical sunscreen, this could be why!


CHOOSE FRAGRANCE-FREE


Fragrance is one of the biggest irritants to the skin often causing allergic reactions, sensitivity and leading to more serious skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. Artificial fragrance can also cause photo sensitivity which can lead to hyper pigmentation.


So why is fragrance added to a product? To make it smell nice, that’s it. There’s no magic in the fragrance and certainly no benefit to the skin whatsoever. That coconut smell we all love so much does nothing for the skin apart from increase the toxic load…Always best to avoid if you can. 


Image: @kendallbaggerly


KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN UVA AND UVB


There are many different types of rays present in sunlight however the ones that are most damaging to our skin that we need to know about are called ultraviolet (UV) rays. Then to break it down further, there are two basic types of ultraviolet rays you may have already heard of - UVB and UVA. 


The first thing to note is that both are bad for our skin, however, they can affect our skin in different ways.


Let’s look at UBV rays. These rays account for 5% of the rays that actually touch our skin and are responsible for causing sunburn. UBV rays typically affect the top layers of our skin and don’t reach the deeper layers. The intensity of UBV rays can fluctuate depending on location, time of day and season. UBV rays responsible for the sunburn we feel on our skin, but they also play the biggest role in causing skin cancers.


UVA rays also play a role in skin cancer formation; however, they penetrate more deeply into the skin. UVA rays also play a greater role in premature skin aging changes such as photoaging or more commonly known as wrinkle formation. 


CHOOSE BROAD-SPECTRUM


It’s a little-known fact that most sunscreens only protect against UVB rays (the ones that cause the burning). To protect against harmful UVA rays (ultimately, the ones which can cause the most long-term damage), always opt for a ‘broad-spectrum’ sunscreen. If this isn’t indicated clearly on the label, it’s safe to assume the product does not offer the full protection healthy cells need.


KNOW HOW MUCH SUNSCREEN YOU SHOULD BE APPLYING


Recent research published in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology has shown 85 per cent of Australians don’t apply enough sunscreen. That’s likely because most people don’t realise how much they actually need. According to Cancer Council Australia, you should be using at least seven teaspoons of sunscreen, which equates to roughly one teaspoon per body part (for example, one for an arm, one for a leg and so on). 


KNOW HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU BE APPLYING SUNSCREEN


As a general rule, you should be applying sunscreen 20 minutes before sun exposure and then every two hours after that. 


Image: @olivecooke


ANTIOXIDANT PROTECTION IS ESSENTIAL


Despite having the facts to make better choices, there isn’t a sunscreen on the market that completely protects the skin from the sun’s rays. Free radicals caused by the sun can harm skin cells leading to dehydrated skin, premature ageing and potentially cancer. The only way to protect your skin against free radical damage is to build antioxidant protection. And that’s where Biologi serums can become your skin’s best friend.


Sure, you can eat a lot of blueberries, but applying pure antioxidants directly to the skin is far more effective in strengthening the skin’s barrier and breaking down the chain reaction of free radicals that damages cells.


Biologi Bf Restore Face and Body Serum is a single plant extract sourced from Australian finger lime. It’s a natural source of active and stable vitamin C which builds antioxidant protection in the skin’s barrier to reduce redness, encourage healing and protection against the damage caused by free radicals. You can apply Bf Hydration Serum all over the face and body both before and after sun exposure to protect, nourish and repair cells after a long day in the sun. 


While some brands are better than others for your skin, let’s be clear that ANY sunscreen is better than no protection at all. If you only have one choice and it doesn’t follow the recommendations, I’d still advise you use that over nothing.


*Disclaimer: Biologi serums can provide antioxidant protection against free radicals, however they do not offer protection from the sun and must always be used in conjunction with sunscreen.


DO NOT RELY ONLY ON SPF IN MAKE UP


There are some great products on the market now that contain SPF protection. Whilst this is a great option, you cannot rely only on the protection in your make up. That’s because you can never be sure how much SPF is actually in the product. Yes, it might be in there, but if the portion is small, then it really isn’t going to provide adequate protection. Prevention and protection are always better than cure so it’s better to err on the side of caution. It is important to remember that any ingredient is essentially diluted when mixed in with other ingredients. The biggest concern when it comes to SPF in make-up products is that whilst the SPF may have been tested prior to adding it into the product (and would have initially provided a level of protection on its own), once it’s been added in with other ingredients, we don’t really know what the level of protection is afterwards. Depending on where the product is made, many brands aren’t required to test the final product for efficacy, just the ingredients before they were mixed in! 


A regular sunscreen with a high SPF is going to be the best protection compared to a moisturiser or foundation version. Remember that sun protection should also go beyond that – at the risk of sounding like a schoolteacher, the best protection is when you slip, slop, slap and wrap! So, slip on slip on some clothes, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a hat and wrap on some sunglasses. I think the slogan from the Cancer Council has progressed even further these days, so it is important to not forget the basics in sun protection. 


Get in touch with Lucy:

instagram | @lucybiologi


Your SPF Essentials


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