Lately, we’ve had a couple of rocky days weather-wise in Cape Town, and nobody knows quite what to wear in the morning.
I’ve turned into one of those people who lugs the contents of my wardrobe around so that I’m not caught unawares if the weather suddenly takes a turn for the worse – or improves, because you never know what you’re going to get in the Mother City.
That said, while the decision to take or leave a coat before going out into the world is very dependent on the day, the one thing that you should always have on, no matter the weather, is sunscreen.
These days we’re wise to the fact that no matter your skin type, sunscreen is the first line of defence against skin damage, but have you ever stopped to think about how it works?
Knowledge is power, so we spoke to the experts at Skin Renewal to answer all of your sunscreen-related questions, and clear up some common misconceptions.
What are we protecting ourselves against?
There are two kinds of UV rays that can damage your skin. UVA is deep penetrating, causes long-term damage to the skin and skin cancers, and makes up about 95% of the UV radiation that we are exposed to.
UVB is a shorter wave light that causes sunburn as well as skin cancers.
What is a broad-spectrum sunscreen?
A broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays, both of which can cause damage to the skin.
Chemical vs Physical Sunscreen
Physical sunscreens form a physical shield on the skin that blocks or reflects the sun’s rays, while chemical sunscreens get absorbed into the superficial layers of the skin, neutralising the sun’s rays.
For sensitive or inflamed skin, a physical sunscreen is preferable as it doesn’t penetrate the skin, thereby minimising the risk of irritation.
How does SPF work?
The SPF factor indicates how long your skin is protected from UV rays.
A person may, for example, turn slightly pink within 10 minutes when in direct sunlight without sunscreen. If that person uses SPF30, the ten minutes are to be multiplied by 30, which means that the SPF30 will offer 300 minutes of protection before the sunscreen has to be reapplied.
You should reapply sunscreen regularly regardless of the SPF as it has a tendency to rub off on towels or clothes.
The SPF offers protection against the sun’s UVB radiation. To achieve the SPF indicated on the bottle, it is important to apply enough sunscreen. Use approximately two tablespoons of sunscreen on the exposed areas of the face and body, with a R5 coin-sized dollop to the face alone which should be reapplied regularly.
Which sunscreen is the safest for the environment?
We all want to do our part to halt climate change, which means that we’re becoming more conscious of how the chemicals we use affect the environment.
When considering a sunscreen, avoid the chemical oxybenzone, which is a synthetic estrogen that penetrates the skin and contaminates the body. It’s also harmful to marine life and coral reefs.
Instead, look for active ingredients such as zinc, titanium, avobenzone or Mexoryl SX. These protect the skin from harmful UVA radiation and remain on the skin, with little if any penetration into the body.
Other forms of protection
It’s always a good idea to use these in conjunction with a good topical sunscreen that works for your skin type.
If you’re unsure about which skincare products would work best for your skin this summer, you can also set up a meeting with one of the Skin Renewal doctors for an assessment.
Bring on the sun!
[imagesource: Getty] In 1920, America's Prohibition began, not only putting the squeeze...
[imagesource: Getty Images] Health and energy drinks don't always go hand in hand. I...
[imagesource: Barry Christianson] After being declared the COVID-19 epicentre in May, r...
When authorities began a days-long search on a plot of land near Hanover, Germany, it was ...
[imagesource: Win McNamee/Getty Images] Let's keep this one short, much like Donald Tru...