SPF stands for Sun Proof Factor and is a major part of your skincare routine which is often overlooked. SPF need to be worn EVERY DAY, this is because it protects your skin from burning and UV damage.
Sunlight contains Ultraviolet radiation, consisting of 2 types of rays: UVB and UVA. UVB rays are about 5% of the sun's rays and affect the top layer of the cells of the skin. Over time, too much exposure to these rays can cause cell damage and DNA damage, causing skin cancer and premature ageing. UVB rays are responsible for the majority of skin cancers as they only penetrate the top layers of the skin.
UVA rays make up around 95% of the sun's rays and are the 'ageing' rays. They affect the inner cells of the skin and are more likely to cause premature ageing and wrinkles (they can also cause some skin cancers). UVA rays penetrate the skin more than UVB rays which is what makes them so much more damaging to the skin and can cause indirect damage to your DNA.
Your skin is exposed to the sun's rays every day - whether its sunny, cloudy or raining - therefore you need to make sure your skin is always protected during daylight hours! You don't need SPF on at night as there is no daylight. Whilst there is SPF in many foundations and tinted moisturisers, I would always apply a specific SPF over your moisturisers as the SPF in make up doesn't tend to be much higher than 15.
A common misconception is that the SPF number is the strength of protection you get, but it is actually the length of time you're protected for. SPF 8 and SPF 50 will both mean you can still tan and will provide the EXACT same protection, the difference is that SPF 50 will protect you for far longer than SPF 8. So here's how it works: if it takes 15 minutes for you to burn in the sun, SPF 8 will protect you for 8 times that length of time (around 2 hours). So unless you're only taking the dog for a walk or popping out for an hour, always go higher when it comes to SPF! Another point to note is that layering SPF will not increase your skin's protection - SPF 15 in your moisturiser plus SPF 15 in your foundation will still only give you SPF 15 protection, not SPF 30! (Another reason why its so important to use a high SPF over your moisturiser).
Physical VS Chemical - there are 2 types of ingredients used to create SPF, physical (also known as mineral) such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, and chemical, such as avobenzone. Physical sunscreens reflect and scatter the rays and chemical sunscreens absorb them. Physical sunscreen tends to be heavier, thicker and whiter so are good for dry/dehydrated/ageing skins. They are also less likely to cause skin irritation so are a good option for people with sensitive skin. I would avoid if your skin is oily/congested or you have a darker skin tone. Physical suncreams can be less effective than chemical hen used alone, you may want to look for a suncream which contains both. Physical suncreams are also not as 'natural' as they may sound, if you're looking for something natural you're better off looking for a chemical sunscreen.
Chemical suncreams can be used in lower concentrations in products, so these creams will be lighter and leave less white on the skin. These are much better for oily/congested and darker skin tones. Some chemical ingredients have been known to cause allergies and skin irritation, so people with sensitive skin may prefer a physical sunscreen or a mix of both.The protection in chemical formulas can be more effective as multiple filters can be added. Whichever you choose is entirely down to personal preference and skin type, but a lot of SPF creams on the market include both physical and chemical so you have the best of both worlds!
When you apply your SPF, always apply it over the top of your moisturiser, never mix the two together. Some ingredients in moisturiser can affect how well your SPF works, and you're essentially diluting the SPF which means you won't be applying as much as you need! MORE IS MORE when applying SPF, I'd use at least a 50p size amount for your face and neck (and don't forget to do your ears!). Try to apply at least 30 minutes before you're exposed to sunlight (which if you're anything like me, it takes longer than 30 minutes to wake up and feel human in the morning so there's plenty of time before I leave the house!). Ideally, you would reapply your SPF through the day but once you have make up on, it's unlikely its going to happen! Use a formula that can be applied once a day, and again, this is another reason why you want a high SPF, you will be protected for longer. Obviously if you are on holiday or sunbathing, just reapply! Especially if your skin has got wet.
That's all the important SPF facts covered! Should you want any product recommendations or have any questions, please feel free to get in touch!