Remember back in the 80’s when a tan meant that you were glowing with health?
Well hopefully we all know better than that now. Even though the sun beckons us to spend more time outside, protecting your skin is more important than ever. Aside from the skin cancer risks associated with sun damage, ninety percent of visible ageing comes from the hours you’ve spent in the sun.
But with so many sunscreen options, it can be confusing, so let us break it down.
Why do I need a broad spectrum sunscreen?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of sunscreen, let’s talk about the unglamorous subject of ultraviolet rays. When the sun shines, both UVA and UVB are emitted. UVB rays are short wave rays that hit the top layers of our skin. Within minutes, the UVB heat trauma signals our melanocytes (tan-producing cells) to create a melanin or a tan to protect our skin. The fairer your skin, the more likely you will visibly burn before your natural tan protection kicks in. Over time, the skin cells accumulate DNA damage, showing up as sun spots, pigmentation or skin cancer. So a faux bronzed glow is the only glow you should get.
UVA has a longer wavelength, which gives this type of UV ray evil ninja superpowers. UVA can penetrate clouds and windows. But perhaps the greatest superpower it has, is the ability to pass through the outer layer of our skin, penetrating deeper where our collagen sits. So just like a ninja, UVA silently degrades our collagen without you burning or even feeling heat, causing pre-mature ageing and wrinkles. Evil right?
Broad Spectrum sunscreen is designed to shield our skin from both UVA and UVB rays, leaving our skin looking smooth and damage free.
But I don’t burn. Do I still need sunscreen?
Just because you are a Mediterranean Beauty or an Indian Goddess, does not make you immune to sun damage. The melanin in your skin may give you some natural protection from UVB, but you still need protection from UVA rays. Whilst people with fair skin are more likely to develop melanoma, people with darker tones are at risk of serious kinds of cancer too, such as Basal or Squamous Cell Carcinoma. And besides, the only place for pebbled skin is on a handbag.
Ok, so I need sunscreen. But which is the best type?
Sunscreens are available everywhere these days, so deciding which is the best type can be confusing. Quite simply, there are two main types: Physical and Chemical.
Physical sunscreens sit on the surface of your skin and provide protection by deflecting or blocking the sun's rays. If you are picturing stripes of fluoro zinc on your nose, think again. Modern physical sunscreens contain micronized particles of Titanium Dioxide or Zinc Oxide for invisible sun protection. One of my favourites is Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On SPF30 (RRP $75), as it can be applied over makeup and reapplied effortlessly during the day.
Chemical sunscreens interact with your skin's upper layers to provide hours of water-resistant sun protection. These contain ingredients like Oxybenzone, Octonoxate or Octocylene, which can be sprayed on, rubbed in or smoothed over your skin with a rolling applicator. These chemical filters scatter the sun rays, but typically absorb the UV energy. A great chemical sunscreen is Aspect Envirostat SPF50 (RRP $30).
In short, save yourself from looking older than the number of candles on your cake.
Wear your sunscreen daily, because every exposure contributes to cellular damage.
Written by Dr. Giulia D’Anna,
Director at Dermal Distinction and TLSE Guest Beauty Contributor