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The abc's of SPF

by People4Ocean Sun Care |

With summer fast approaching, what better time for a quick refresh on SPF fundamentals? We all have experienced the first summer day sunburn, from over-exposing our pasty white skins after a long winter. No harm should come to you this summer if you follow these must-know & do’s.
UVs first
Australians are particularly aware of the role UV-rays have in fast-tracking skin-aging and increasing chances of skin cancer. Ensuring your SPF protects you with a maximum UVA filter is extremely important, particularly from an ageing point of view as these rays penetrate deeper into the skin and through glass and are as strong in the winter as they are on sunny days. They’re the main cause of patchiness, spider veins, enlargement of blood vessels, increased darkening and collagen and elastin damage while UVB rays are those that cause burning. Think of it like that UVA – Aging, UVB – Burning. Your SPF should protect you from both, so look out for the symbols UVA/UVB or the words ‘Broad Spectrum’ when choosing a brand.

Physical vs chemical
Physical filters (zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) sits on the surface of the skin deflecting rays like a mirror, while chemical filters (everything else), absorb the UV energy to prevent it from penetrating the skin. Chemical formulations are generally lighter and invisible, however most experts still recommend physical SPF as it offers both UVA and UVB protection and doesn't irritate sensitive skin.

Physical filters reflect UVs like a mirror while chemical filters transform UV-rays into heat, increasing likeliness of skin redness and hyper-sensitivity.
SPF explained
It is recommended to wear sunscreen between SPF15 and SFF30 to give the correct level of protection. Anything below an SPF15 gives very little protection. As SPF30 blocks 97% of UVs and SPF50 98%, it is often asked whether anything higher than SPF30 is worth the greater level of sunscreen chemicals. Generally, it’s not essential unless you have a specific condition where SPF50/60 is recommended (e.g. hyper-pigmentation) but most skin cancer charities state SPF30 applied correctly and regularly is sufficient and limits the concentration of sunscreen chemicals the skin is exposed to, particularly sensitive skins and children. 

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