If you know me, then you know my one and only diehard beauty rule: sunscreen every damn day. You should be wearing sunscreen every day of the year, come rain and shine, regardless of the season or weather! Most people will recognise the importance of wearing sunscreen in the summer, but sunscreen needs to be worn year-round and should be the most important part of your skincare routine.
Exposure to the sun is vital for your overall health and wellbeing. Regardless of the weather, UV rays provide necessary vitamin D, it can help with depression, strengthen your bones, even help regulate your blood pressure. My three years living in South Carolina were the healthiest I’ve ever felt, the sun truly has the power to change your attitude and health. However, bare exposure to the sun increases the risk of skin cancer and can cause early signs of ageing.
Any time your skin is exposed to harmful UV rays you are at risk of sun damage, even incidental sun exposure like your daily commute, for example. Damage from UV exposure is cumulative and increases your skin cancer risk over time. So even if you tan, you need sunscreen. I even put sunscreen on in the mornings before walking the dogs for 20 minutes. When I say sunscreen should be daily and the most important part of your skincare, I mean it. Even on days when I’m not leaving the house, I wear sunscreen. Here’s why.
Understanding the types of UV exposure
In simple terms, there are two types of UV light and both are proven to contribute to the risk of skin cancer.
- Ultraviolet A (UVA) has a longer wavelength and is associated with skin ageing.*
- Ultraviolet B (UVB) has a shorter wavelength and is associated with skin burning.*
First, let’s talk about UVB. UVB penetrates and damages the outermost layers of your skin. Although the intensity of UVB fluctuates, it can damage your skin year-round, especially at high altitudes or on reflective surfaces like snow or ice. Did you know snow can reflect up the 80% of UV rays, increasing your risk of sun exposure? The good news, UVB rays can be filtered and do not penetrate glass.
UVA rays cause tanning and are the rays used in tanning beds. UVA rays, while slightly less intense, still contribute to the development of skin cancer. They penetrate the skin more deeply and play a greater role in premature ageing and wrinkles. Unfortunately, UVA is everywhere and accounts for up to 95% of the UV radiation reaching earth.* These rays maintain the same level of strength during daylight hours throughout the year and can penetrate windows and clouds. Did you know that up to 80% of the sun’s rays can pass through clouds?
My foundation has SPF, isn’t that enough?
Not really. Most of us only use a small amount of foundation, much less than we would put on our skin if we were applying sunscreen alone. Experts have estimated you would need to use 7 times your normal amount of foundation to get the coverage needed to protect your skin from UV rays similarly to sunscreen. Because of this, it’s best to use sunscreen prior to your makeup routine.
How to choose a sunscreen
Not all sunscreens are created equal. Quick lesson: the SPF number tells you how long the sun’s UVB rays would take to redden your skin when using that product compared to the time without sunscreen. “Broad-spectrum protection” refers to both UVA and UVB rays. Most moisturisers with SPF refer to UVB ray protection only, so for that reason, I always recommend doubling up. Find a good broad-spectrum sunscreen and either a moisturiser with SPF or foundation.
Please note, I am not an expert but have spent a lot of time and years learning as much as I can about UV protection from reputable sources like the Skin Cancer Foundation.
*Source: Skin Cancer Foundation