Why you need to wear SPF during winter – Yes you do…
In Cape Town the weather has turned from glorious summer to chilly autumn. In Cape Town, it is a change over which happens (which feels like) overnight. The scarves, boots and jackets come out and the good old faithful flip-flops get thrown to the back of the cupboard.
I have had the question from friends and clients many times in the past whether it is still necessary to apply a sunblock during the colder months. It kind of makes sense not to. There are no obvious scorching sun rays = no harmful rays getting to your skin so no sunblock needed…?
The quick answer: YES you do need to continue wearing a BROAD SPECTRUM sunblock of at least SPF30 every single day.
Why? UVA rays are constant during all daylight hours throughout the year and can reach your skin through clouds & glass. UVB rays can also damage your skin year-round.
The ELECTROMAGNETIC (light) SPECTRUM SIMPLIFIED:
UVA: These guys have the longest wavelengths at 320 – 400 nanometers. They take up 95 % of the total UVR (Ultra Violet Radiation) reaching the earth’s surface! They are pretty much constant during all daylight hours throughout the year, and can penetrate clouds and glass. EISH.
They also penetrate the skin a lot deeper than UVB and can cause major skin aging, wrinkling (photo aging) and can cause skin cancer.
UVB: They clock in at wavelengths of 290 – 320 nm. Remember when you used to look at the difference in skin color at your bikini line at the end of a day at the beach…? Well, you can thank UVB rays for all that skin reddening and sunburn, because UVB damages the more superficial skin layers.
Unfortunately it also causes skin cancer and once again that dreaded photo ageing. Its intensity varies by season, location, and time of day. However, UVB rays can burn and damage your skin year-round, especially at high altitudes and on reflective surfaces e.g snow or water.
UVC: Not to worry about for now – these guys are mostly absorbed by the ozone layer and do not reach the earth.
OK ENOUGH OF SCIENCE – WHAT DO I NEED TO APPLY EVERY DAY?
Your SPF should protect you from both harmful UVB and UVA rays. The new standard for FULL UVA protection is called BROAD SPECTRUM. So look out for this.
FYI in the not so distant past, they (who knows who THEY are…) used to think that UVA didn’t really matter – so most sun blocks were only tested in terms of their UVB protection (the term SPF relates only to UVB blocked).
THERE ARE TWO MAIN TYPES OF UV-SCREENING INGREDIENTS:
PHYSICAL (Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide) – These reflect the UVR away from the skin.
CHEMICAL (all of the rest… e.g avobenzone, oxybenzone etc.) – These absorb the UVR.
WHICH IS BEST??
My personal rule of thumb is that Physical is better. BUT, most sunscreens have a combination of the two which is fine for most of us. If you have a super sensitive skin or even sensitive eyes, the chemical ingredients could irritate your skin. I would also NOT use a chemical based sunscreen POST-PROCEDURE (e.g. chemical peel and micro-needling).
These are a few of my tried and tested favourites.
All Heliocare (Will post a review on other ranges’ SPF’s soon!) – all prices are incl. VAT and are Recommended Prices:
1.Gel SPF50 (Oil-Free) – R307
2. XF Gel SPF50 – R336
3. Spray SPF50 – R412
4. 360 Gel Oil Free – R393