From wearing it indoors to the actual difference those numbers make, here’s everything you wanted to know about SPF answered by an expert…
With people staying indoors more than ever, and a whole host of summer holiday plans in ruins, you might think that skincare isn’t something you need to worry about right now.
However, it’s still hugely important to protect your skin from the kind of environmental nasties you’ll still find both in and outside the home.
Your best protection against everything from UV rays to blue light is SPF, but there’s still a fair bit of confusion around the subject, ranging from what the numbers actually mean to when and where you should be using it.
So with that in mind, we put some of the most Googled questions to a skincare expert to find out everything you need to know about SPF and how to make sure you’re using it correctly…
1. Do I need to wear SPF every day?
It’s the most asked question, and the one with the simplest answer…
“Yes,” says Candice Gardner, Education Manager at Dermalogica.
“Even if the UV index is low, or you’re not planning extended outdoor exposure, you will still be exposed to ultra violet A (UVA) radiation, which can severely damage your skin.
“UVA penetrates deeper into the skin, is present in the same relative levels all day and penetrates cloud cover.”
Message received. So what do the numbers mean?
“The SPF value is relative to the amount of sunscreen agent in the product and the level of filtering this can provide,” explains Candice.
“SPF15 filters 93% UV, SPF30 filters 97% UV and SPF50 filters 98% UV.
“SPF50 uses almost double the sunscreen agent for only 1% more protection, which is why SPF30 tends to be most popular.”
2. What’s the difference between chemical and physical SPF?
When choosing your sunscreen, you’re presented with a choice - chemical or physical. So which one should you go for?
“Chemical sunscreens penetrate into the superficial layers of the skin, absorb the UV light and convert it to heat, neutralising its impact” explains Candice.
“Physical sunscreens act like a mirror - the particles sit on the surface of the skin and reflect the UV light, preventing it from penetrating and causing damage.
“Chemical sunscreens tend to be preferred for their water resistance and invisibility, while physical sunscreens are tolerated better by sensitive skins.”
Dermalogica’s Invisible Physical Defense SPF 30 offers a great compromise - a weightless, ultra-sheer physical sunscreen, it’s packed full of zinc oxide for repelling UV without irritating your skin, while blending much more effectively than other physical sunscreens
Truly the best of both worlds.
3. Do I need to wear SPF indoors?
With social distancing and self-isolation in full effect, chances are you’re spending more time at home than you’ve done in a long time.
So do you still need to wear SPF when you’re indoors?
“UVA can penetrate windows and glass, so being indoors doesn’t necessarily mean you will avoid its skin-wearing effects,” explains Candice.
And then there’s blue light to consider.
“Whilst not as powerful as UV light, blue light may also cause skin deterioration in a similar way to UV,” says Candice.
“If you are wearing a physical sunscreen that includes Zinc Oxide, this can also provide blue light protection from computer screens and devices.”
So yes, indoors and out please.
4. Should I use a separate moisturiser and SPF?
While some moisturisers contain a certain amount of SPF and some sunscreens have moisturising properties, it makes sense to use two dedicated products.
“Moisturisers are designed to balance your skin and reinforce your natural protective barrier, whereas sunscreens offer dedicated damage-prevention from UV,” says Candice.
Basically, they’re designed for different purposes and you want to use them both together for as much protection as possible.
“Then if you have time, try using a Vitamin-C serum before applying your moisturiser and SPF,” continues Candice.
“It adds a fantastic additional layer of defence for your skin.”
5. Do you need to use SPF if you have darker skin?
One of the longest-enduring skincare myths is that darker skin tones don’t need to wear sunscreen, or at least not one with a very high SPF.
However, that intel is flawed in the extreme.
“Regardless of your skin tone, you should be wearing SPF15 as an absolute minimum,” explains Candice.
“Although physical sunscreens have a reputation for leaving white marks on darker skins, there are now physical sunscreens that work across different skin tones.”
Dermalogica’s Invisible Physical Defense SPF 30 is a case in point, designed to blend easily into all skin tones without leaving any residue.
Dermalogica’s Invisible Physical Defense SPF 30 is a weightless, ultra-sheer, physical sunscreen that blends easily on all skin tones without running the risk of irritation caused by the stronger formulations found in some chemical sunscreens. Containing zinc oxide for protection against UV rays and blue light, antioxidant green tea to combat free radical skin damage and a bioactive mushroom complex to help soothe and protect against dryness, it’s the skincare solution you need in your life.