Saturday 25 June 2022

Your Top SPF Questions, Answered

Wearing a good SPF is one of the best things we can do to ensure our skin stays as healthy, as youthful, and as safe as possible, all year round. However you'd be surprised to learn there is still a little confusion over SPF. So, to answer some of your most common SPF questions, I spoke with Rowan Hall Farrise, Skincare Expert at QMS Medicosmetics...

Does a higher SPF equal better protection?

You will find sun protection factors (SPF) labelled on products and generally people think that SPF50 is ‘stronger’ protection than SPF30 however, the level of protection is actually the same. The ‘SPF’ number indicates the length of time you are protected - as a general rule SPF30 would protect you for around 3 hours and SPF50 would protect you for around 5 hours. This is why I recommend SPF50, as it will keep your skin protected for a longer period of time.

Do different skin tones require different levels of SPF protection?

No, we should all wear SPF50 daily regardless of our skin tone. There is a common misconception that darker skin tones provide more natural protection from all UV rays than lighter skin tones, however this is false. Darker skin tones are actually more prone to inflammation from UV, which can lead to pigmentation. We all live with high levels of UV, so everyone needs daily protection, regardless of their sex, age, skin type, or skin tone.

Do you need to use SPF all year round?

The sun is one of the biggest causes of ageing, and a leading cause of skin cancer, so it’s essential to wear an SPF all year round, even if you are at home for the day or the weather is overcast – UV rays are still able to penetrate through the clouds and reach your skin. There’s an argument that wearing SPF daily can inhibit vitamin D absorption, however, you actually absorb most of your vitamin D through your eyes, and it is best absorbed in the morning. So I recommend taking a morning walk with your SPF50 on and leaving the sunglasses at home.

Why do some SPFs feel heavier on the skin than others?

SPF formulas have come a long way in the last five years - there are now many on the market to suit all skin types.

There are two types of protection available, chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens protect the skin by absorbing UV rays, converting the rays into heat, and then releasing them from the body. This process makes chemical SPFs lightweight and best suited to oily or acne-prone skin. Physical sunscreens, more commonly known as mineral sunscreens, contain ingredients that create a physical barrier on the skin, blocking out the sun's rays. As a result, physical SPFs may have a thicker texture and can feel heavy on the skin.

For maximum protection, I recommend using a sunscreen with both chemical and physical in the formulation. The QMS Cellular Sun Shield SPF50+ (£75.00 Liberty) has a lightweight formula that offers both chemical and physical protection from UVA and UVB exposure.

How do you stop SPFs leaving a white film on the skin?

It's about choosing a formula that works best for you and your skin type. Although not every SPF creates a white film on the skin, those that do are often physical sunscreens. To prevent this happening, it's important to heat the product in your hands before applying it to your skin. This will help absorption and leave less of a film on the skin.

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