A great quality SPF is the most important skincare product you will ever own. We asked Karen Bester, Medical Trainer at Lamelle Research Laboratories, a few commonly asked questions about SPF protection:
Should you wear an SPF every day?
In South Africa we are all constantly exposed to sunlight. Sunlight ages your skin, causes pigmentation to darken and causes damage that may lead to illnesses of the skin and also skin cancer. Apart from sun protecting habits and clothing, at Lamelle, we advise that everybody applies a sun protection product to the exposed skin daily, before they go into the sun. More specifically, a broad spectrum sun sunscreen like Helase 50 + (RSP R525).
What is the lowest SPF to wear on your face for daily use?
Sun protection habits are well studied and well known. From trials we know that, in general, we do not apply enough product to get the actual protection factor that is advertised on the bottle. To protect your skin adequately, from general in and out of buildings and cars etc, you would need at least an SPF 15. At Lamelle we suggest you wear a product with a SPF 30 and up to accommodate the fact that you are not applying enough product to you skin. Try Nourish Multi Active Sun 30SPF (RSP R520).
Please explain the difference between UVA and UVB and why you should look for a product that protects against both?
In short, UVB does not penetrate skin well and will cause more burning effects in the top layers of the skin. UVA penetrates better and will cause more ageing effects. Both of these frequencies cause darkening of skin and both have free radical production effects. UVB causes more direct damage to the DNA of skin cells while UVA causes more free radical damage to DNA in human skin.
The biggest challenge is that UVA does not hurt so you don’t know it is happening. UVB is scattered by clouds and some of it is blocked by glass. So if you are indoors and there is sunlight shining in to your office, for instance, your skin is being damaged but you might only realise it as the years go by.
If you use a product with an SPF rating on it, it should have a UVA and UVB rating. These ratings are controlled internationally.
Are there any new research regarding SPF/UVA/UVB and sun care in general to take into account?
Due to the high incidence of skin cancers in all sunny countries, sunscreens, sun blocks, ingredients and the effect of sun are always being studied. Sunscreens are being perfected and made even more broad spectrum. Other ingredients are being added to sunscreens to manage the effects of the other spectrums of sunlight on our skins. Visible light, Infra red and UVC/pollutants that also damage the skin.
Technology is so advanced that we also have access to ingredients that can recognise and correct damage to the DNA that was caused by the sun. We are able to protect skin even better now than we could 5 years ago and the technology keeps on getting better and better. We just need people to use these advances in their day to day life.
What are your top tips for staying safe in the sun this summer?
- Apply sunscreen every day before you go into the sun.
- Even a high SPF does not give you 100% protection, so if you are outdoors and in the sun re-apply your sun protection products every 2-3 hours.
- Re-apply sun protection products when you are swimming or sweating (even water resistant sunscreens – resistant not waterproof).
- Remember the tip of your nose and your tips of your ears.
- Wear sun protective clothing – hats and shirts.
- Stay out of the sun between 12h00 and 15h00.
- Drink extra antioxidants if you are planning on being in the sun – Ovelle D3 which is an oral supplement with Pygnogenol and activated Vitamin D, it increases the skin’s resistance to UVA by 80%. More than that – it significantly improves the appearance of Melasma (hormonal pigmentation), and delays premature ageing of the skin. (RSP R695).
- If you are a high risk for burning (very fair skin) or skin cancer (you or a direct family member have received treatment for skin cancer) look for a product that will give you more than just UVA and UVB protection – Helase 50 + (RSP R525).
What about SPF in your make-up (foundation) – is it enough to protect you in summer?
Generally the SPF in your make up will only be around 7 or 15 SPF. This is not high enough to get adequate daily protection. Very few women apply make-up to the full neck and décolletage and that is the area that takes the most hammering from the sun when you are in your car or outdoors with your hat on. It is better to use a separate sunscreen and then apply your make-up with its sunscreen on top of this.
If you have very sensitive skin, what should you look out for in a sun care product?
There are two types of sensitivity, sensitive to the sun and sensitive to ingredients. If you are sensitive to the sun and burn easily look for a SPF of 50 and a sunscreen that not only protects you form UVA and UVB injury.
If your are sensitive to ingredients, the challenge is generally to know what ingredient/s you are sensitive to. This usually entails a process of elimination as not all sunscreens contain the same ingredients. Generally we do find that very few skins react to the Lamelle sun protection products.
Should you buy a SPF just for the face, or can you use body SPFs on the face as well?
The skin on your face is much more sensitive, and if you are a girl you might want to put make-up on over your sunscreen. The skin on your body is much tougher, turns over at a slower rate and the pH of your body’s skin is different to that of facial skin. For this reason I would suggest having a specialised facial sunscreen and a more robust body sunscreen.
For more information about Lamelle products, visit www.lamelle.co.za or visit your nearest Lamelle accredited therapist.
Definitely guilty of forgetting to put sunscreen on my body as well!