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The Importance of Wearing Sun cream daily: even on a cool Summer Day

By Grace Jackson

It is no secret that we know we have to take care of our skin. Our Mums have impressed upon us the importance of it; and their Mums before them. For many of us, the phrase ‘taking care of your skin’ immediately brings to mind the ideal daily skin routine. (I am planning to do an article on this topic in the near future; so, keep your eyes metaphorically peeled!) But some of us; and I admit I used to be among this group; are lax when it comes to basic protection against that celestial body which us Brits love to ‘worship’, chase, and eventually find on an average of 3 days in summer: the Sun. I know it has been discussed before; but we can never get enough coverage of a topic that is so fundamentally important to our wellbeing and longevity of skin health.

There is a very common myth that surprisingly still circulates in our modern society: that you don’t need to wear sun protection unless it’s sunny or hot. Maybe it’s something we subconsciously tell ourselves because we don’t want to spend those extra pounds on ‘out of season’, or because we are so desperate to get a perfect tan that we’ll sacrifice almost anything to get it. But trust me; investing in sun cream is so worth it. Because we are not invincible; no matter how much we think we are or wish we were. And yes, you might be thinking, “I don’t need sun cream at the moment, it’s so chilly for the Summer; the sun is barely making an appearance!’ I concur that it is very frustrating that we are experiencing weather that bears absolutely no resemblance to the glorious torture that was the warmth last year when we were all in lockdown. But newsflash: your skin needs protection even when there is no sun and no Mr Blue Sky.

I’ve listed some important facts and stats about key features of sun protection and cream:

  • The key thing we need to protect ourselves against are all-powerful UV (ultraviolet) rays. They are literal radiation – absolutely crucial to fight the effects of.
  • If you use even a low Sun Protection Factor such as factor 15 every day, you reduce the chances of your skin developing squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) by roughly 40%, and your risk of developing a general melanoma by 50%.
      • SCC is the second most common type of skin cancer and is cutaneous, meaning it is a purely skin cancer. An SCC is the irregular growth of squamous (flat) skin cells.
      • Melanoma is another form of skin cancer you may know of; bring fairly common. It typically spreads fast to other areas of the body if not targeted quickly; when still in the first stages of development. Less commonly known facts about melanomas include: 70-80% of them appear on skin that looks/ed absolutely healthy, and 20-30% of melanomas can be discovered in existing moles. This may be surprising to you; it certainly was to me. I’ve always been taught to keep a close eye on the existing moles I have and look for changes in them that may have a sinister cause. I myself will certainly be on the lookout for any new moles that appear; and become even better at recognising those that have a normal appearance and those that do not; as should we all.
  • The ideal time to first apply sun cream/screen is half an hour before you’ll be venturing out. Keep an eye on how long you’re outside for; because you will need to reapply it every 2 hours for maximum protection.
  • SPF 15 is ideal for everyday use; when it’s not overly hot or sunny; but always remember that you will need a much higher factor in tandem with being exposed to higher temperatures and stronger rays, i.e. factor 50/60; but a minimum of 30 if you work/spend a lot of time outdoors.
  • There are some incredibly important active ingredients you need to look out for when picking the right sun cream for you, which not all brands of protection have; and they fall into two categories:
      • Chemical – examples of these are avobenzone and octisalate. These work by absorbing the damaging UV rays before they can harm your skin and cause you problems down the line.
      • Physical (or mineral) – most common examples of these are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. These actually block and disperse the rays before they get a chance to sink into the skin’s layers.

If you see any of these on the list of ingredients in a sun cream; you’re on the right track for effective protection!

  • Another surprisingly little-known fact is that you need to reapply sun cream after swimming – yes, the water is powerful enough to wash off even the thickest of layers! Even more frequently unknown is that you need a fresh layer after perspiring.
  • Many people think that only those with particularly fair skin, or ginger hair and freckles need sun cream. This is so not true! No matter how much melanin in your skin; whether you have a lighter or darker skin tone; you need that gloop.
  • Don’t just rely on cream! It’s important to also stick to the shade where possible, drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration; and shield your head and eyes. Let’s get those massive hats and fashionably large sunglasses out!

I know we’re all looking forward to enjoying ourselves; especially when the weather finally warms up this summer; and goodness knows we need it after three lockdowns. But remember – the concepts of fun in the sun and taking time to protect your skin aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s entirely possible to combine the two and have your absolute dream holiday (despite being restricted to green travel zones only), or a lovely day on the shores of the great English seaside; while taking care of your beautiful skin for now, and all the days to come. So, Save your Face, and remember you can source expert SPF care from PSS.

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