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Why we need SPF

Most of us know the importance of wearing sunscreen in the summer months to avoid sunburn and skin damage, but it really should be a year-round preventing health measure. Always wear sunscreen, no matter your skin colour or tone.

Why you should always wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days?

Up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays can pass through clouds, so don’t forget to wear sunscreen even on an overcast day. Sunscreen is an important preventive health care habit that should be maintained all year, including the winter months. Snow can reflect up to 80 percent of ultraviolet (UV) rays, increasing your risk of exposure to sun damage. Also, the higher the altitude, the greater the UV exposure, so sunscreen is crucial for family ski vacations, too. When in doubt: always wear sunscreen!

Picking the right sunscreen

Some newer types of sunscreens have been introduced and should be taken into consideration when selecting the right type for you. While there is no perfect sunscreen, selecting one that you like is the key motivating factor for regular use. Here are a few kinds to consider depending on skin type and sun exposure: • Spray – Spray sunscreen can be more convenient than lotions, especially for parents applying sunscreen for children. If you do choose a spray, be sure to use a generous and even coating and apply more frequently. • Built-in Sunscreen – Some moisturizers, lipsticks and foundations contain sunscreen. These are perfect for days when you will not be spending much time outdoors and are good for everyday protection. If you do plan on spending a lot of time in the sun, be sure to use a secondary source of sun protection. • Mineral – Mineral or hypoallergenic sunscreens are now available for those with sensitive skin. These types of sunscreen sit on the skin instead of being absorbed into it, providing you protection without irritation. • Sweat- or Water-Resistant – Although water-resistant and sweat-resistant sunscreens are not 100% waterproof, they are specifically formulated to stay on the skin even after getting wet. It is important to reapply every two hours or after getting out of the water. • Stick – Sunscreen sticks are perfect for spot application, such as your nose and ears. These areas are important and are among the areas most commonly affected by skin cancer.

What factor sunscreen (SPF) should you buy?

Do not rely on sunscreen alone to protect yourself from the sun. Wear suitable clothing and spend time in the shade when the suns at its hottest.

When buying sunscreen, the label should have –

  • A sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to protect against UVB

  • At least 4-star UVA protection

UVA protection can also be indicated by the letters “UVA” in a circle, which indicates that it meets the EU standard.

Make sure the sunscreen is not past its expiry date, most sunscreens have a shelf life of 2 to 3 years.

What are the SPF and Star Ratings?

The sun protection factor or SPF is a measure of the of the amount of ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) protection.

SPFs are rated on a scale of 2 to 50+ based on the level of protection they offer, with 50+ offering the strongest from the UVB protection.

The star rating measures the amount of ultraviolet A radiation (UVA) protection. You should see a star rating of up to 5 stars on UK sunscreens. The higher the star rating, the better.

The letter “UVA” inside a circle is a European marking. This means the UVA protection is at least a third of the SPF value and meets EU recommendations.

Sunscreens that offer both UVA and UVB protection are sometimes called broad spectrum.

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