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The Complete Guide to Sunscreen for Skincare

We might think of sunscreen as something just for the summer months, but it is important to protect your skin from damage all year round. Up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays can pass through clouds and still be absorbed by your skin, which is why wearing sunscreen should be a year-round habit. Even on days when your skin would not get burned the damage from UVA and UVB rays continues. 

What’s the Damage?

When the skin is exposed to the sun's UV rays, the cells in the lower part of the epidermis are pushed to the top to thicken and protect the skin, giving the skin a tougher feel. Some of the cells in the epidermis layer called melanocytes produce a darker colour, giving us a tan. Unfortunately, far from being healthy, a sun tan is a sign that skin damage has already taken place.

Sun damage from UV rays causes photo-aging of the skin, discoloration; and a breakdown of collagen, which contributes to lines, sagging and wrinkles.

It All Adds Up

Sun damage is cumulative so making a habit of applying it can really help in preventing damage. Regular use of sunscreen can decrease photo-aging over time, redness, brown spots, and wrinkles, and loss of elasticity caused by exposure to the sun's ultraviolet radiation

People who use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher daily, show 24 percent less skin aging than those who do not use sunscreen daily. Their skin was more resilient, smoother, and less wrinkled.

The process renews itself around every 28 days. Preventing the continual accumulation of more and more damage allows the skin to naturally heal on its own. Protection from the sun gives the skin a chance to rest instead of constantly defending itself from UV exposure and repairing the damage.

Sunscreen can not only protect your skin but also reverse common signs of photo-aging, like wrinkles and hyper-pigmentation.

Of course, sunscreen also helps to prevent skin cancer and sunburn. And without sun damage your skin will avoid discoloration and dark spots, helping to maintain an even skin tone. 

Complete Guide to Skincare Sunscreen UK

Protection Factor

You need to protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Longwave Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays penetrate deep into the dermis, the skin's thickest layer and causes premature skin aging, wrinkling and dark spots. Shortwave Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays burn the superficial layers of the skin and are the main cause of sunburn and skin cancer.

Sunscreen strength is expressed in SPF - Sun Protection Factor. The SPF is calculated by observing how much more ultraviolet light it takes to burn the skin, with the SPF rating showing how much time it takes to burn compared to unprotected skin. Choose a SPF of at least 30 or higher, for 30 times the protection of bare skin. 

SPF shows the protection the sunscreen offers against UVB, while the PA rating shows the protection level against UVA - the more pluses the higher the level. 

It’s best to apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside to allow it to bind to your skin, and then reapply every two hours. Make sure to apply a generous amount as under-applying or streaking can result in localised skin exposure. 

Ultimate Guide to Skincare and Sunscreen

Chemical vs Mineral

Sunscreens offer either chemical or mineral protection. They both shield against UVB and UVA so you’ll need to experiment and use whatever sunscreen works best for your skin type. 

Chemical sunscreen can offer a much higher protection level and are usually more easily absorbed leaving fewer white streaks and residue. The formula is absorbed by the skin and protects it directly. However, those with sensitive skin find chemical sunscreens more likely to cause irritation. 

Mineral sunscreens have fewer ingredients and an active mineral formulation. The formula stays on top of the skin and prevents the radiation from reaching the skin. They tend to cause fewer allergic and irritant reactions making it the better choice for sensitive skin.


Refresh Recommends...

Here at Refresh Skincare we take skincare seriously and stock a wide range of chemical and mineral sunscreens. 

COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPA50+ PA+++ 50ml - Mineral and chemical sunscreen. (It contains titanium dioxide making it physical as well)

Etude House Heart Blossom UV Double Cut Fresh Sun Gel - chemical sunscreen

Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Sunscreen 55ml SPF50+/PA+++ - Mineral sunscreen

Etude House Sunprise Mild Watery Light Sunscreen SPF50+/PA+++ - chemical sunscreen

Innisfree Intensive Triple Care Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++ - Mineral sunscreen

Missha All-Around Safe Block Essence Sun SPF45 PA+++ - chemical sunscreen

 

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