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Sun Protection
Choosing A Sunscreen Formula And Using It Properly Are The Most Significant Skin Care Steps You Are Ever Likely To Take
What's the difference between UVA and UVB?
UVA radiation penetrates the outer layer of your skin to your dermis, where it degrades the skin's supportive proteins. This leads to a gradual loss of elasticity, and the development of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as as photo-induced hyper-pigmentation, or 'age spots'. UVA is also considered responsible for sun allergies.

UVB reaches the dermis to a lesser extent, because it wreaks its own form of havoc in your epidermis, the outer layer of skin. Here it literally burns skin tissue, causing the reddening, blistering and pain we associate with sunburn. It is thought that isolated doses of UVB radiation (on your annual holiday for example) over a number of years is fundamental to the development of skin cancers, including malignant melanoma.
Doesn't my skin have any natural protection from the sun?
Yes, everyone has a natural level of sun protection. This is genetically determined and relative to the rate of melanin production in your epidermis. Melanin is a dark pigment that blocks UV light from penetrating deeper into the skin. Naturally darker skin is therefore better protected from the sun. Fair skinned people face a greater risk of premature skin ageing and skin cancer, so for them, protection from UV light is vital.
How can I avoid burning, premature skin ageing and skin cancer caused by the sun?
There are several steps you can take to reduce your risks of long and short term sun damage. The first is to protect your skin with a sun cream or lotion whenever you are exposed to UV rays. Sun protection products are categorised by their 'SPF' number.
How do I know which SPF number I need?
The SPF number refers to the protection level that formula will give you relative to the length of time it takes your skin to burn when unprotected. Simply multiply this time by the SPF number to find the maximum time each formula will protect you for. For example, if you usually burn in 10 minutes, an SPF4 lotion will protect you for 40 minutes, while an SPF30 will last 300 minutes. It therefore helps to know how long you will be exposed to the sun before applying your sun cream.
I need an SPF25. Why can't I apply a less expensive SPF2 lotion every 30 minutes?
It may seem tempting to opt for lower factor sun protection formulas and apply them more often, but this is not the way they work. Your skin actually stores the sun's energy, which means the effects of UV light are accumulative. In other words, if you've been using sun protection of a lower factor than you need, and your skin has started to burn, applying more is useless.
My skin has reacted badly to sun products in the past. What can I do to protect it from the sun?
Because sunscreen formulas contain active ingredients that work with the skin to protect it from UV damage, there is always the potential for irritation.
What is the difference between chemical and physical sunscreens?
Chemical sunscreens employ light-responsive chemicals that literally absorb UV rays. They leave no trace once applied, but some people find their skin reacts to the active ingredients, becoming itchy and flaky, or developing small spots known as Mallorcan Acne. If this is the case, then specially formulated sunscreens for sensitive skin should be recommended.
Useful Tips
The only way to use sun protection products properly is to select an SPF that will protect you for the whole time you will be out in the sun