Sunscreens

Prevention is better than cure.  Using sunscreens daily is clearly very sensible, more-so for lighter skin types.  Sun-blocking agents need to block both UV-A and UV-B to be useful, known as a “broad spectrum” sunscreen.  Many sunscreens are rated with a “SPF” factor- that refers to “Sun Protection Factor” for UV-B only. SPF15 means if it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 sunscreen theoretically prevents reddening for 15 times longer.

However, no sunscreen, regardless of strength, should be expected to stay effective longer than two hours without reapplication. Also, "reddening" of the skin is a reaction to UVB rays alone and tells you little about what UVA damage you may be getting. Plenty of damage can be done without the red flag of sunburn being raised.

Avoiding high direct overhead sunshine is advisable. Being outside before 10am or after 3pm is safer.  Wearing broad brimmed hats, wearing hair down to cover the ears and neck, or long sleeves assist in protecting against the sun.  Children have more sensitive skin and extra care should be taken to protect them.

With acne or more oily T-zone skin, a Cetaphil sunscreen is ideal, or an alcohol based spray on sunscreen such as the one we offer in the Sunsense range. Thicker greasier sunscreens are not recommended for oily/acne skin types.

Sensitivity to some sunscreens is a nuisance. Older agents often contained para aminobenzoic acid, PABA, a common sensitiser, or parabens.

Thick zinc or titanium pastes were once popular and provide a physical block to UV-A, but tend to “travel’”.  They reflect the radiation. Newer developed sunscreens contain micronised titanium or nanotechnology (with very tiny physical blockers).