While we all know we should, how much do we actually understand about the significance of wearing sunscreen? From the science behind the formulas to the best brands to try, read on for the lowdown.
First things first, what are we protecting ourselves from? UV radiation from the sun is transmitted in three wavelengths. UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC doesn’t penetrate the earth’s atmosphere, so we only really need to protect against UVA and UVB. An easy way to remember the difference between the two, is that UVA rays are associated with aging, while UVB rays are responsible for burning.
Next up, it’s important to note that there are in fact two types of sunscreen. Sun protection products contain chemical or physical filters. Chemical filters (look for oxybenzone or avobenzone on the label) are like sponges that mop up harmful UV rays, while physical filters, containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, create an actual barrier that blocks UV rays out. Look for products that do both and that offer broad spectrum – that’s high SPF and a UVA filter of 85% or above. We love Hampton Sun SPF Continuous Mist Sunscreen.
What the SPF?
You might think you know what you’re getting with your sunscreen, but do you know what you’re really getting protection from? SPF (or Sun Protection Factor) is a measure of how well a sunscreen protects skin from UVB rays and are rated on a scale of 6-50+ based on the level of protection they offer. For adults with medium to tanned complexions, we recommend using SPF20 (all year round) and then stepping up to SPF30 in peak season.
But, for fair complexions or young skin, it’s safer to stick to SPF50 and above, especially when going somewhere hot. Hampton Sun SPF 70 Wet For Kids is a great go-to as it provides powerful dual protection with sophisticated technology that only becomes more efficient when exposed to water or perspiration.
A More is More Approach
For optimum protection, use 6-8 teaspoons (35ml) per application – that works out roughly as more than half a teaspoon of sunscreen for each arm and the face/neck, and just over one teaspoon for each leg, front, and back of the body. And that’s every two hours. It is vital to apply sunscreen indoors, 15-30 minutes before sun exposure as up to 60% of protection can be lost if applied in direct sunlight. Apply top-to-toe and then toe-to-top to ensure you don’t miss any bits. Products such as Coola’s Sport Continuous Spray SPF50 Unscented make it easier to protect hard-to-reach areas.
Always Read the Label
Applying out-of-date sunscreen can be as dangerous as applying none, as once the preservatives expire, the active ingredients they protect can start to decompose. Always check a product’s shelf life – the average is just 6-12 months. For extra security, use a permanent marker to write the start date on any opened bottles. Don’t forget to look for protection with added antioxidants (i.e. vitamins A, C and E) to ensure you have protection from infra-red and environmental pollution as well, and finally, a sunscreen should be fragrance free, as fragrance can be drying for the skin.