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The Ultimate Guide to Sun Protection this Summer

holiday essentials

Save your skin this Summer!

Short term sun damage presents as sunburn. Long term unprotected sun exposure causes gradual damage to your skin known as sun damage and accounts for about 90% of the signs of skin ageing.

There are two main types of damaging rays, UVB and UVA. They damage skin cells and their DNA leading to fine lines, wrinkles, irregular pigmentation, visible vessels, thinned skin, loss of elasticity and skin cancer (including melanoma).

That’s why it is so important to protect your skin during the Summer months as well as all year round too.

UVA and UVB RaysUVB Rays
UVB rays are the main cause of tan and sunburn because they damage the skin’s more superficial epidermal layers. UVB rays play a big part in the development of skin cancer and have a contributory role in sun damage and tanning. UVB rays account for 5% of the sun’s rays and vary according to season and weather conditions; they’re more intense in the Summer and at high altitudes.

UVA Rays
UVA rays can pass through glass and clouds and are present every day of the year at equal intensity during daylight hours. They account for 95% of UV rays that reach the earth. Since UVA rays are longer in wavelength that UVB rays, they are able to penetrate into the deeper skin layers (dermis) affecting collagen, elastin and blood vessels. UVA plays a major role in sun damage. It can also damage skin cells at the basal layer of the epidermis where most skin cancers arise.

UVB Coverage and SPF
The SPF number shown on sun protection products shows only the level of protection from UVB rays. All sunscreens must be tested by an SPF test procedure. The test measures the amount of UV ray exposure it takes to cause sunburn when a person is using sunscreen in comparison to how much UV exposure it takes to cause a sunburn when they do not use sunscreen. An SPF of 30 blocks 96.7% of UV rays so that only 3.3% will get through, compared with an SPF of 15, which blocks 93.3% of UV rays and lets through 6.7% – twice as much.

UVA Coverage
UVB-focused sunscreens may be a reason for the increased skin cancer rate in North America. The incidence of melanoma has tripled in the last 35 years. Only recently have the affects of UVA been uncovered including sun damage, immune suppression and skin cancer. UVA should be the focus considering that it comprises 95% of UV and is responsible for the majority of sun damage and skin cancer.

Consumers assume that they are being protected from the entire UV spectrum and are distracted by high SPF values into mistakenly thinking that their sunscreen is reducing all sun damage. Actually, sunscreens that mainly absorb UVB shown by a high SPF reduce the risk of sunburn, but may be detrimental by letting you stay in the sun longer. You won’t burn but you will increase your risk of UVA damage.

There is no such thing as a safe tan
A tan results from injury to the skin’s DNA. The skin darkens into a tan as a flawed attempt to protect itself and prevent further DNA damage. However, these flaws can lead to skin cancer over time. Remember, there is no such thing as a safe tan, because a tan equals sun damage.

The importance of sun protection
Sunscreen can help prevent skin cancer by protecting you from the sun’s harmful UV rays. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recognises sunscreen as the most effective cosmeceutical used to prevent and reverse the signs of ageing. Our AlumierMD products help care for your skin on a daily basis with UV protection.

Other sun safety tips
Limit your sun exposure – stay out of the sun when it’s at it’s strongest, from 11am until 4pm. Find shade under a tree to protect yourself from the harmful and damaging UV rays.

Cover up – wear a hat and light coloured long sleeve shirts and trousers. Also a good tip is to find sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB rays.

Use enough sunscreen – a lot of people forget to even put sunscreen on, so now is the time to make a change for the better. Make sure you use enough sunscreen and wear it everyday.

Timing – apply sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before going outside. This will give it enough time to seep into your skin and start to protect it.

Reapply – always reapply your sunscreen every 2-3 hours, especially if you are outside for prolonged periods of time. Reapply after swimming washing, towel drying or heavy perspiring.

And, as beauty therapists we would never use tanning beds, as a “tanned skin is a damaged skin”.