Welcome to part 1 of our 2 part guide to sunscreen! We kick off by getting to know the sunscreen basics so you can know your UVAs from your UVBs. Part 2 will take you on a historical journey of sunscreen from its origins to sunscreen as we know it today. Let’s dive in!
- Sunscreen protects your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays by reflecting or absorbing them.
- SPF (Sun Protection Factor) indicates the length of time that you will be protected but it is recommended that you reapply every 2 hours and after swimming or sweating.
- Not all sunscreens are created equally, find a sunscreen that suits your lifestyle and skin type
- Always choose a sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection.
Want to know more? Read on...
Live. Laugh. Wear Sunscreen. Simple rules to live life by. It would be easier, however, if choosing your Sunscreen didn’t require a degree in chemistry.
For the average person the technical jargon relating to sunscreen can be confusing and can often lead to misunderstanding, misuse, and worse, sunburn.
Information like UVA, UVB, SPF-50, 30,15, Broad Spectrum, along with gibberish sounding ingredients like Octyl-Methoxycinnamate and Oxybenzone can turn a fun day in the sun into hours of head-scratching as you try to absorb the masses of conflicting information available.
But fear not! Our simple guide to sunscreen will have you relaxing on the beach faster than you can say “one mojito please”
So what is sunscreen?
When applied to the skin, sunscreen protects you from the harmful UV rays emitted by the sun by forming a protective layer on the surface of your skin. Depending on the type of sunscreen this layer can either be absorbed into the skin or sit on top forming a physical block.
However, sunscreen does so much more than protect you from skin cancer!
Applying good sun protection daily has shown to prevent discolorations, dark spots, wrinkles, sagging, and leathery skin; helping to maintain even skin tone. So, it's time to ditch the old daily moisturiser and upgrade your skincare routine to include UV protection.
The ingredients that protect you in sunscreens are known as “active ingredients” which either reflect or absorb the UV rays as they hit the skin. Other ingredients moisturise the skin, help absorption, stabilise the active ingredient, and preserve the solution for longer shelf life. These vary depending on the quality of the sunscreen and its desired effects.
No matter the type of sunscreen, the colour of your skin, your age, or gender, everybody can benefit by protecting themselves from the harmful effects of sun exposure. Just remember sunscreen is for life, not just for holidays.
How to choose the right sunscreen?
You know how important it is to protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays but did you know there are two categories of sunscreen available?
We have made a quick summary of the two types below to help you choose which is best for you and your family.
1. Organic Filter Sunscreens
Not to be confused with organic, the term here does not refer to chemical-free ingredients. Organic UV filters are a group of compounds containing carbon, designed to absorb UV radiation.These sunscreens are by far the most common on the market and represent all of the big, high street brands. They protect the skin by absorbing harmful UV rays, turning them into heat, releasing them from the skin.
Big brands prefer this type of filter as the ingredients are cheap for mass production, produce products when combined with alcohol and other chemicals that can be pumped and sprayed and enable them to make claims such as 'fast-drying'.
The worrying part about this type of sunscreen is that the skin can absorb the chemicals and there is evidence to suggest that they may disrupt biological processes like metabolism, growth, development, sexual function, and reproduction.
There is also evidence stating that organic formulas also have negative effects on marine life and coral, prompting destinations such as Hawaii to ban their use and urging beachgoers to opt for inorganic “reef safe” Sunscreens.
The most common active ingredients in these sunscreens are listed below. Check out your current sunscreen to see which are in the ingredients.
- 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
- Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
2. Inorganic (or Physical Sunscreens)
Sometimes known as sunblock or non-nano sunscreen (more on this later), these sunscreen filters contain inorganic metals - Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide - that form a barrier on the skin, reflecting and absorbing harmful UV rays.
Up to now they have earned a bit of a bad reputation for whitening your skin, being chalky, heavy, and generally not very nice to use but thankfully new technology has seriously upped the physical sunscreen game, making luxurious formulas that look and feel great.
Physical sunscreens are less likely to irritate, meaning they can be perfect for babies, children, those with sensitive skin and those with heat-activated skin conditions (rosacea and redness, prickly heat).
Due to these facts physical sunscreen filters are the no-brainer choice for Palm and Pine.
What does SPF mean?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and indicates the length of time that you will be protected from UVB rays (but not UVA, more on that later). The time that you will be protected is based on a multiplication of the labelled SPF number. For example, an SPF 30 will protect you for 30 times longer than it would take for your skin to begin to burn (or go red) without any protection. This length of time can differ for different age groups or skin types.
These numbers are based on tests performed in a laboratory in perfect conditions but as you know life is anything but ordinary and the daily rigors can affect the time in which you are protected. To stay protected it is important to re-apply every 2 hours and after any swimming or sweating.
Many believe that the SPF factor is in direct relation to its strength of UV protection but that not true. For instance -
- SPF 15 will protect from 93% of UVB rays
- SPF 30 will protect from 97% of UVB rays
- SPF 50 will protect from 98% of UVB rays
We recommend that if you are going out in the sun, you should pick a minimum of SPF 30 and avoid sunbathing when the sun is at its midday peak. A perfect excuse for a cocktail in the shade.
So what are UVA/UVB rays?
UV radiation is natural energy emitted by the sun which can not be seen by the human eye but felt on the skin. There are 2 types of UV radiation proven to cause damage to the skin.
1. UVB rays
UVB radiation penetrates the outermost layers of your skin causing sunburn and in extreme cases blistering. Overexposure of UVB rays has been proven to lead to genetic defects and mutations, potentially leading to skin cancer.
UVB rays are most prominent when the sun is high in the middle of the day and can still damage the skin when reflected off surfaces like water and snow. It can be stronger at higher altitudes so if you are out in the mountains always remember to protect yourself.
The SPF label in sunscreens only refers to UVB protection.
2. UVA rays
Whilst slightly less harmful than UVB, UVA accounts for 95% of ultraviolet radiation that reaches the earth and is known to absorb deeper into the skin. UVA radiation keeps a similar strength throughout daylight hours and can penetrate clouds and glass meaning that it is everywhere all the time.
Scientists used to think this type of radiation was safe and sunscreen only protected against UVB radiation but it has now been proven UVA rays are harmful.
Look for sunscreens like Palm & Pine, labelled with UVA/UVB protection or Broad Spectrum Protection.
If sunburn, wrinkles, dark spots, and potential skin cancer are not your thing then avoiding overexposure to UVA is a great place to start.
Sunscreen is not only smart, it’s essential. It not only protects from skin cancer but moisturises and slows the aging of the skin. Slapping it on and catching that first scent reminding you of every dreamy summer holiday you’ve ever had, lying in the sun without a care in the world.
However sunscreen is not just for the beach. Protecting your skin should be as routine as waking up and brushing your teeth. UV protection should be part of your daily skincare routine, before leaving the house, no matter what your plans are. It’s time to redefine sunscreen and consider it as daily UV protection. Look at it as an upgrade from your current moisturizer. Your skin will thank you for it.
Thanks to amazing advancements in knowledge and technology within the sun care industry, along with new findings of current ingredients and how your body reacts to sunlight, Palm & Pine is developing UVA and UVB protection using non-organic filters, minus the ghostly whitening usually associated with zinc sunscreens. Providing healthy, sustainable, daily UV protection.
Always remember that in addition to sunscreen the right clothing (hats, long sleeve tops, trousers) and managing your time in the sun should always be the priority, especially when it comes to young children and elderly.
We’re here to keep you protected and informed so you can make the best choices for protecting your skin. Part 2 of our guide to sunscreen takes you on a journey through history from the invention of sunscreen to where we are today!
We love to hear from you so comment below with questions and check out part 2, a History of Sunscreen, tomorrow!
See you outside ☀️
For sources and further information visit - www.skincancer.org