Sun Safe

By Brittany Lane

The complex domain of complexion; The New SPF. We are all really wanting to get back out into the sunshine but even a slight amount of this light can be destructive to the skin. Let’s get empowered on how to best understand what we need to do to be sun safe.

Photography Jason Yates

As we delve into the summer months especially after our prolonged enclosure in lockdown, it is understandable to want to launch ourselves into an abrupt ‘fill’ of sunlight.


Whether that’s through the open kitchen window or just on a stroll through the local park, our sun-deprived bodies could appreciate some rejuvenation of natural light and vitamin D. 


Without a thought, our first preparation is to grasp at any bottle that proclaims the bold letters of SPF on its front, in the belief that this is all we need to protect our skin. 


In fact, it’s not. There happens to be a lot more of a complex understanding needed in terms of what is harmful to our skin and how we can protect it.  Typically it is understood that when exposed to powerful sun rays, without a thick covering of a high SPF slathered onto our skin, we’d burn, which of course is true. But really it is only part of a bigger truth.


Though as we have all these terms; SPF UVB UVA and so much more. What do these terms actually mean and how can we best work out what we need to do to keep our skin fully protected?


In almost every skincare product developed for sun exposure, will include SPF. Abbreviated from Sun Protection Factor, SPF is the measure of a sunscreen’s ability to protect your skin from the parts of the sun rays that damage us.


Which is why there are different factors, ranging from levels like 15, 30 and all the way up to 50. The number contributes to how long it will take for your skin to burn when wearing SPF in comparison to not using it, so SPF 30 will take you 30 times longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen. However, this depends on the particular skin tones of each person.


But why should it depend on skin tones? This is because of a skin pigment named Melanin. Melanin is the pigment in our skin cells (named melanocytes) that cause our skin to have a darker/brown hue.


Most notably, those who have less melanin within their skin, otherwise known as fairer/paler skin tones have a higher risk to burning and redness than those who have more melanin in their skin otherwise known as darker skin tones. However, you may be wondering why is melanin important and how does it protect you more from sun rays?


Eumelanin is the main form of melanin that gives skin a brown colour. Eumelanin is what is needed to have better protection from sun rays as it is found to convert harmful Ultraviolet (UV) radiations into heat in the quickest way it can.  Although this doesn’t mean darker skin types cannot burn, it just means there is higher protection from burning as melanin helps block out UVB radiation.


But what is UV radiation and why do we need to protect our skin from it? Ultraviolet rays are electromagnetic radiation produced by the sun. There are three types of UV rays, UVA, UVB and UVC. Though our concerns are not with UVC as although it’s the most damaging radiation, it is completely filtered by the atmosphere so can not reach the earth’s surface (thankfully). So let’s focus on UVB and UVA radiation.


UVB is the main culprit for why our skin burns as it owns a shorter wavelength meaning it reaches only the surface of the skin, therefore burning the epidermis (top layer) of our skin.


UVA rays pose as less of a threat to UVB as it is everywhere. Ultraviolet A accounts for up to 95 per cent of UV radiation, and remains the same level of strength during daytime throughout all seasons of the year. 


However it should still be known that UVA rays can be just as damaging as its partnering radiation, though instead of causing the skin to burn, these rays penetrate the dermis (layer underneath the epidermis) causing it to darken by increasing melanin. For those who want to tan through the summer months, this is great! However an increase in melanin can not always turn out the way we plan it to.


It’s important to note that some increases of melanin can cause other skins issues, such as hyperpigmentation. This is when an excess of melanin production builds up within the dermis of the skin causing skin conditions like Melasma.


Although hyperpigmentation can be caused by other factors besides the sun, such as hormones, medicines or skin trauma. It is still necessary to protect the skin as much as possible from sunlight to improve the problem and prevent a further increase.


As well as the most overt concerns of burning your skin, including cosmetic worries such as early skin ageing and sunspots, there are other major concerns as to why protection from sun exposure is incredibly important.


Without the right protection, the risks of skin cancer can increase substantially. This is in the result of the UV radiations damage to the DNA in our skin cells.


Though apart from UV radiation, what else should we take into consideration when protecting our skin? An often over looked problem outside of the solar spectrum is air pollution.


Everyday gases predominately contribute towards our skins epidermis surface. Pollution mainly causes free-radical damage to skin, one of the worst types of damages as it deteriorates all that makes skin healthy and youthful. Just like pollutants, free-radicals are everywhere as they are unstable atoms that damage cell proteins and DNA by altering their chemical structure, a process other known as oxidative stress.


Although this can occur through all seasons, air pollution seems to be much higher during the summertime due to the higher temperatures alongside low wind velocities and poor air circulation that cause ozone levels to increase. Making this just as much of an important factor as the solar spectrum.


All in all, to get full protection for our cellular concerns, it is vital to find a product of which has support against all forms of climatic deterioration. Within Institut’s Esthederm’s sun care range, their New Photo Tinted and Bronze Repair Sunkissed face creams offer just what is needed. Striving away from conventional SPF creams, the brand provides its own form of protection that doesn’t just target UV harms but other powerful harms that most often miss our awarenesses.


The brand’s main aim is to comfortably protect the skin cells whilst applying a tint to help correct the appearances of any skin irregularities. Both products offer identical resolutions of solar protection, as well as antioxidant benefits for ozone pollution and free-radical destruction, the only difference between them is the directed skin shades.


The Bronz Repair Sunkissed is suited for darker, less redness-prone skin types in comparison to the Photo Tinted which is aimed towards the lighter skin tones which are more sensitive to burning. The brand also offers protection for more than just the face but also the body. The Institut Esthederm Adaptasun suncare range also provides a skin cell shield for the body suchlike the Adaptasun Protective Body Lotion or Protective Milky Body Spray which supply the right amount of skin defence needed against both UVA and UVB exposure, with once again no SPF!


The main objective of the brand’s purpose is offering that of an alternate form of SPF. “It measures the risk of sunburn, but not the risk of ageing photosensitisation.” The brand claims. The Institut Esthederm suncare products provide its contemporary solution to protect the skin above and beyond the traditional sun protection factor. Instead, the products adapt the skin to sunlight and preventing photo-ageing, whilst also controlling inflammation, an aggravating factor in skin ageing. 

An additional brand that can apply more, Soleil multi-action Toujours range; once again offering not just your usual SPF protection but a simultaneous antioxidant benefit to help apply a stronger shield against harmful UV rays. The brands proprietary antioxidant EcoSunComplex blend of red algae, vitamin C ester, vitamin E and bisabolol strengthens its sun care protection properties.


Alongside its other key ingredients of Pentapeptide-11, CoQ10, Sodium Hyaluronate, Green Tea Leaf Extract to target premature skin ageing. The Extreme UV Mineral Suncream SPF 45 For Face provides the protection minus the usual heavyweight feeling and oily build-up. However, don’t forget the under-eyes. The Perpetual Radiance Eye Glow + Illuminator SPF 15 shares its Toujour range of antioxidant and UV ray defence though owns a brightening and highlighting target for under-eye bags and dark circles.


Now post that sunshine exposure you may well find you need a little bit of overnight loving..well you face may so what about Syrene Aqua Hydrating Masque


This clear overnight gel masque restores critical moisture to a dry complexion. It melts into your skin while creating a deep reservoir of hydration, providing antioxidants to protect your skin from the environmental drivers of ageing and leaves skin dewy and plump.

Care of our skin is import at the best of times but sun damage is the worse sort of problem we can have. Knowing the ways to best protect yourself by understanding what suncare actually does how it works and how it protects is the best piece of empowerment we can have.

If you enjoyed reading Sun safe then why not try our article Music Goes Lockdown here

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