Ten facts you need to know about your sun protection

Dr Preema Vig answers the most commonly asked questions about sun protection and care.

Women with sun cream on

Do you have to use sunscreen when it’s cloudy?

Cloudy days are no excuse not to wear sun protection as the level of UV radiation is not affected by temperature and UV rays can penetrate through thin cloud. In fact, patchy clouds can intensify UV levels because radiation is redirected off the clouds edge and then focuses on the ground.

What SPF should you use on your face?

Even if you decide to go for a lower SPF on your body you should always go for the highest possible protection on your face. The SPF in your foundation isn’t enough to protect you in the sun so always use SPF50 sunscreen on your face.

What is the difference between UVB and UVA rays?

UVB rays cause burning and UVA rays are the ones that cause ageing and are associated with DNA damage. UVA rays can alter the skin cell DNA, causing malignant melanoma over time.

How important is wearing sunscreen in the battle against skin ageing?

The most important skin-care product available to prevent wrinkles is sunscreen. Both UVA and UVB rays cause wrinkles by breaking down collagen, creating free radicals and inhibiting the natural repair system of the skin. If you only spend on one skincare product, let it be a good SPF.

Do sunscreens protect against UVA and UVB rays equally?

The SPF on a bottle of sunscreen tells you the amount of protection from UVB rays and in the UK a star rating tells you proportionally how much UVA protection is in a sunscreen. Five stars means an SPF15 will offer the same level of UVB and UVA protection; whereas three stars (the EU standard) tells you that your SPF15 will give you lower UVA protection than UVB. Also look for sunscreens that are labelled ‘broad spectrum’ as only sunscreens that protect against UVA and UVB rays are legally allowed to use this label.  

How often should you apply sunscreen?

Always apply a generous amount of sunscreen 20 minutes before sun exposure, so it can penetrate the skin and then reapply every two hours, especially if you’re in and out of the water. Remember to reapply sunscreen as soon as you sweat or swim and every couple of hours.

spray sun cream

Which formulation offers more protection – spray, gel or cream?

All formulas will give you the same amount of protection. So if it says SPF15 on the bottle that’s what the protection will be. It’s really down to individual preference, so look what the product does rather than what it is and ensure what you choose has a high SPF and UVA level of protection

If you're out in the sun, should you avoid using products with Retinol (Vitamin A) in?

You shouldn’t wear products with Retinol in out in the sun as it will make your skin more susceptible to UV rays and actually cause skin to age faster. Products with retinol in will make skin light sensitive and will strip the skin of old skin cells, so you loose a bit of sun protection from the lifted dead skin cell barrier.

What are the best ingredients to look for in a sunscreen?

Sunscreen ingredients can be divided into physical compounds that block radiation or non-physical compounds that absorb radiation. Look for scientifically advanced physical sunscreens like Titanium Dioxide and micronized Zinc Oxide, they provide broad-spectrum sun protection and are used in iS Clinical products.

What is the future of sun protection?

Cutting edge sunscreens not only protect against UVA and UVB rays, they also offer anti-ageing properties and reverse and repair DNA damage. iS Clinical’s new Extreme Protect SPF 30 7.9 pH +/-0.5 £60 for 100g, provides broad-spectrum protection and helps to repair solar damage by reducing redness and inflammation associated with sunburn. In clinical studies the application of Extreme Protect SPF30 was proven to offer nearly complete protection against thymine dimmer formation. Thymine dimmers cause the specific DNA damage that is consistent with a high cancer risk. 

For further advice visit Dr Preema

Last modified: June 10, 2021

Written by 1:42 pm Women's Health