When the lovely ladies at Dermalogica offered me the chance to get some info about being sun smart (in every which way) from their Australasian Education Manager, Emma Hobson, I jumped at the chance to pass it on to you! So here it is, everything you need to know about being smart in the sun (with the most important bits in bold for you).
The sun is ‘enemy number one’ for the skin. It causes premature ageing (big time), hyper/uneven pigmentation (which is the most recognisable characteristic of ageing even over wrinkles), capillary damage, skin thickening and worst of all cell trauma resulting in permanent damage which could lead to contracting skin cancer. The majority of damage to the skin is done prior to our 18th birthday, one flash burning and we have increased our chances of contracting skin cancer by 50%. I like to look at it this way; imagine your skin cells contain a ‘memory bank’ (your DNA) and every time you go out in daylight and are exposed to U.V. it ‘banks’ this information, stores the damage over the years until the day comes to pay your skin the dividends of the damage received. It does this by rewarding you with solar lesions, hyper or hypo pigmentation, immunosuppression, photo ageing and ultimately for many, skin cancer. Sun simply equals premature ageing and detrition of the health and wellness of the skin.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a component of sunlight characterised by invisible light waves that are shorter and more energetic than the wavelengths of visible light. UV radiation is subdivided into three categories based on wavelength: UV-C (290-100 nm), UV-B (320-290 nm), and UV-A (400-320 nm). Shorter wavelengths of light are more energetic and potentially more destructive than longer wavelengths. Fortunately, UV-C, the shortest wavelengths in the UV spectrum, is completely absorbed by the gases in the atmosphere and does not reach the skin.
UV-B is primarily responsible for causing skin erythema, more commonly known as sunburn. While UV-B also produces the beneficial effect of Vitamin D synthesis, it is also responsible for skin damage such as pigment changes, keratinocyte hyperplasia, immunosuppression, photo aging and cancer.
UV-A also causes sunburn, but to a much lesser degree than UV-B, and many of the potential damaging effects of UV-A have been overlooked in the past. UV-A is now known to also play a part in photo-aging and cancer. The potential damaging effects of UV-A when compared to UV-B, is approximately twenty times more abundant, is not filtered by window glass, is relatively unaffected by altitude and atmospheric conditions, is relatively constant throughout the seasons, and is 100 times more likely to penetrate into the dermis.
The latest wave of skin protection has moved into the arena of Dermalogica‘s Daylight Defence, since the damage from the sun rays is not merely from UVA and B but also from free radical damage (ROS). We know that sun screens only inhibit 55% of the ROS (Reactive oxygen species) that are generated in daylight. Consequently sunscreens alone are not enough protection. The new wave of daylight defense protection not only has SPF of 30 but in addition new smart booster technology where by fresh potent anti oxidants of Vitamins C and E are released from DNA capsules in the product on contact with daylight to neutralise the atack from the free radicals.
Chemical sunscreens; work by absorbing UV radiation and converting its potentially harmful energy into a lower energy form which is then dispersed harmlessly.
Some of the most commonly used and effective chemical sun screens are Butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane (Avobenzone ), Oxybenzone, Octyl Methoxycinnamate, octly salicylate. Only two offer significant protection against UV-AI, the range of UV-A responsible for photo aging of the skin. One is Butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane (Avobenzone ), with an absorbance spectrum of 310-400 nm, this is the only chemical absorber approved in the United States that protects against the full UV-AI spectrum. The second is Ecamsule (Tetraphthalydine dicamphor sulfonic acid) also offers full UV-AI protection, and is available in Europe.
Physical sunscreens work by reflecting, scattering, and blocking UV radiation.
Zinc oxide, one of the two physical blockers, is the only approved sunscreen ingredient-absorbers and blockers—that offers protection against UV-B, UV-AII, and UV-AI. However, zinc oxide only covers the UV-AI spectrum up to 380 nm. In general, physical blockers offer a broader spectrum of protection than chemical absorbers but have in the past had the undesirable quality of having a dense white appearance when applied, that said the new micronized forms of these ingredients are incredibly light in texture and have little to no surface appearance. Of the two physical blockers, zinc oxide has been found to be superior to titanium dioxide because it has a broader spectrum of protection.
Sun screens are not accumulative, they don’t add up like a simple maths equation. By layering two SPF 15 products will only increase the SPF fractionally not by double. Equally an SPF product of 30 does not filter double the amount of suns’ rays as and SPF 15 as many think, yes both are complete sun blocks however an SPF level of 15 filters out 93.3% of UV exposure and an SPF 30, 96.7%. Many people prefer to use an SPF 15 as it contains nearly half the quantity of sun screen filtering ingredients as an SPF of 30 thus for many resulting in less skin sensitivity to the sun screen product. FYI though not sold in Australia an SPF 45, 97.8%. In Australia you can only get a sun block up to an SPF 30
For sun products have formulas that are multi functional they can be a skin moisturiser as well as a sun block it makes life very quick and easy. Since the sun causes dehydration you need to protect the skin along with helping strengthen the capillaries (preventing leaking) another negative of UV.
You can get fantastic sun blocks that are really great moisturisers and address the signs of ageing: The sun can cause hyper pigmentation so ideally the products need to be fragrance free (prevents photo ageing of fragrance) in addition look for non comedogenic formulas, no artificial colours and use ones that contain a heap of anti oxidants to fight those very nasty free radicals that want to wreck and age our skin. Some solar defence products contain “Smart Booster” technology whereby they have potent cocktails of anti oxidants that are encapsulated and only burst when one is actually exposed to UV light which means if you put your moisturiser on in the morning and don’t go out until lunch they (anti Oxidants) are only let loose on the skin then.
Some key (non sun screening) ingredients for sun protection:
Anti-oxidants; green tea, grape seed, fumitory, liquorice, ascorbic acid, tocopherol, retinyl palmitate, ginkgo biloba.
Anti-inflammatories; green tea, lavender, aloe and liquorice soothe red all soothe inflamed skin.
Every sun care product needs to be reapplied within a two hour period to maintain its SPF rating on the skin, that said water proof and really water proof need to be applied 40 mins (W.P) and 80 minute (VWP) time intervals once out of the water you should reapply immediately. You need to reapply as the SPF screening agents become less effective over time and so screen out less UV rays also products not always sit on the skin effectively they are rubbed off, sweat removes them as well as swimming etc.
It’s imperative to apply your sunscreen at least 30 mins before going out in the sun.
So there you have it – what are your sun smart tips?