Did you know you should wear SPF everyday?
Sun protection factor (SPF) plays an important preventative role against the long term effects of overexposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun including: sunburn, skin damage, premature ageing of the skin and skin cancer.
There are two types of UV radiation that we need to be concerned about: UVA and UVB
– UVA rays penetrate more deeply through the layers of the skin than UVB. It is associated with Skin Ageing (wrinkles, lines, age spots) but also associated with Skin Cancer. UVA can pass through window glass and is present year round, even on cloudy days.
– UVB rays are mainly responsible for sunburn, can’t pass through window glass and are strongly associated with two types of Skin Cancer: malignant melanoma and basal cell carcinoma.
SPF is more accurately the sun burn protection factor, as it primarily shows the level of protection against UVB, not the protection against UVA. SPF Ratings are on a scale of 2-50+ based on the level of protection they offer, with ratings between 2 to 14 forming the least protected end of the spectrum and ratings of 50+ offering the strongest forms of UVB protection.
Broad Spectrum SPF refers to sunscreen which offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Originally, sunscreens were designed to protect against just UVB rays, which cause sunburn but only account for a small portion of the full UV spectrum. UVB rays were once thought to be the only rays that could cause harm and UVA rays were thought to produce a “healthy” tan. Now we know that UVA rays contribute to premature skin aging and some forms of skin cancer. According to the EU recommendation, the UVA protection for each sunscreen should be at least a third of the labelled SPF. A product that achieves this requirement will be labelled with a UVA logo which is the letters “UVA” printed in a circle.
UVA ratings range from 0-5 stars and indicate the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVA rays, compared with the level of protection it provides against UVB rays (i.e. the ratio between the level of UVA and UVB protection offered by the product). The higher the number of stars, the greater the level of protection against UVA. Sunscreens with a low SPF can still have a high number of stars, not because they are offering high UVA protection, but because the ratio between UVA and UVB protection is the same as offered in sunscreens with higher SPF.
That’s why it’s important to choose a high SPF as well as a high UVA protection (e.g. a high number of stars). A good broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 and a UVA rating of 4 – 5 stars is generally considered as a good standard of SPF. So why not introduce an SPF as part of your daily skincare routine – we should all wear a minimum of SPF 30 or 50+ on the face, neck and décolletage everyday.
For more information, call in to your local Haven Pharmacy for expert advice on the best UVA & UVB protection for you and your family. Remember, SPF is not just for the sunny days- but all year round!