How to Apply Sunscreen

Why you NEED to include SPF in your daily skincare routine

Sun protection SPF sunscreen

When you think of sunscreen you think of being abroad in a hot country, lathering it on by the poolside. What you don’t think of is a dull day in the UK. However, sun protection factor (SPF) should be an important part of everyone’s skincare regime, regardless of the heat. Why?

Because without it, your skin can be exposed to harmful UV rays which lead to premature ageing, wrinkles and pigmentation.

Online skincare retailer Face the Future found that despite the fact that we know SPF should be worn daily, regardless of the weather conditions, they’ve seen trends of around a 64% increase in searches for ‘SPF’ and ‘sunscreen’ between March and August, before dipping again from September onwards.

We spoke to London-based dermatologist Dr Stefanie Williams to discover her top tips for sunscreen application.

Dr Stefanie Williams Eudelo
Dr Stefanie Williams

What will protect your skin?

There is a wide variety of suncreams, oils and sprays on the market, so what should we be looking for when buying our SPF? “From a professional standpoint, I believe that you should always be going for SPF 30 or above even if you aren’t in the sunshine,” advises Dr Williams. “You will see a lot of makeup products, moisturisers and lotions that include SPF 15, and
women often think that this can give them their protection for the day. Of course, something is always better than nothing, but if you’re out and about all day with no time to reapply, you need to make sure your face is getting the most protection that it can. I believe the higher the better!”

Dr Williams also recommends going for products that are broad spectrum, because this protects you from both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays can prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkling and age spots and UVB rays can burn your skin. Too much exposure to both UVA and UVB rays can also cause skin cancer. As such, a 4-star UVA protection is recommended.

How much to apply

Does anyone ever pay attention to the amount of sunscreen they put on? Or do they just squeeze it out, rub it in and hope for the best? According to Dr Williams, the majority of people do not apply nearly enough product to protect their skin. In fact, the average amount applied only provides a maximum of 40% of the expected protection from the sun’s harmful rays.

She says, “The desired amount would be a third of a tablespoon for each area, but most people only apply about half that amount. People also often forget certain areas such as the ears or the neck – you need to make sure you apply the cream smoothly and evenly all over. Ideally, people should be topping up this amount every two hours, but of course this isn’t always feasible and it can sweat or be rubbed off. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’ve at least got a high SPF.”

It’s for men too!

Dr Williams says that in her experience, it’s more likely for men to neglect the use of SPF in their everyday routines. She notes, “It’s not just that they don’t know as much about skincare, but men seem to have a notion of SPF as this horrible sticky formula that was put on them as a kid. Most of them are scared to use it! They aren’t aware of how important it can be. So, while the women reading this should make it part of their routines, they need to remind their husbands and partners too as well!”

Vitamin D…

According to Dr Williams, there has recently been a great deal of discussion about how sun protection creams affect your body’s synthesis of vitamin D, which can be obtained from the sun. This is because vitamin D is important for maintaining strong and healthy bones, while deficiency has been shown to increase the risk of multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, certain cancers including breast cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases to name a few.

With all this in mind, people always ask, ‘Shouldn’t we make sure to sit in the sun every day to keep our vitamin D production high?’

“As a dermatologist, I would much rather recommend vitamin D supplements to adjust your level if you’re deficient,” Dr Williams comments, explaining, “It’s very important for people to take vitamin D supplements along with using the correct SPF, and that prevents any unnecessary sun damage whilst also keeping your levels up.”

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