If you’re reading this article it is probably safe to assume you’re not of the age where your mother is chasing you around the pool slapping sunscreen all over your face and body. This means it’s now up to you to ward off cancerous UV rays, welcome to adulthood!
And while this memory probably brings back the feeling of sticky, gloopy formula, the good news is that sunscreen has come a long way. In fact, most of today’s decent sunscreens don’t feel any different on the skin than a moisturiser or body lotion. If you’re still not sold, keep reading while we divulge all of the many, many reasons that wearing SPF every day is a non-negotiable.
Why you need to wear sunscreen every day
While the “you need to wear sunscreen every day” mantra might start to bore you after a while, it doesn’t make the sentiment any less true. In terms of premature ageing, there truly is no better defence than applying SPF every day (apart from laying off a few damaging lifestyle vices like smoking).
While chugging superfood smoothies in the hope of getting glowing skin can work to an extent, if you’re not protecting your skin from the sun - you can pretty much wave ta-ta to your youthful appearance by your late 20s. This is why starting early is your best defence against both cancerous rays and premature signs of ageing. But it is never too late to start your SPF journey either, and no matter how damaged your skin is already - you can still prevent it from getting more damaged.
Even if you’re one of the lucky few who never actually turn red, the idea that skin is only damaged when burned to a crisp was actually debunked years ago. And while you may not get burned during the winter or when you’re spending more time indoors, UV light (especially in New Zealand) is still strong all year round. If you repeatedly expose your skin to UVA and UVB, over time the elastin in your skin will start to break down. This may be all well and good while you’re in your teens and 20s, but trust us when we tell you that by your 30s you’ll be able to sort the SPF wearers from the non-SPF wearers! And unfortunately, these effects are irreversible, which means, yup - no re-dos. This is why wearing SPF every day, no matter what the weather is doing - is crucial for both your health and your appearance.
How does SPF work
SPF stands for ‘sun protection factor’, to the surprise of probably no one reading this. But what the numbers mean to you and your skin requires some basic maths and a little more know-how. With risk of oversimplifying the equation, if you think about how long you can usually stay in the sun without burning then add SPF15 - this means you can stay in direct sunlight for 15 times that length of time without burning. SPF30 will therefore allow you to be in the sun for 30 times longer etc. So it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more powerful - but it means you are able to stay in the sun for longer without damaging your skin. It also pays to remember that everyone is a little bit different - so keep an eye on what works best for you.
Traditional SPFs usually only protect against UVB (not UVA) - so keep an eye out for sunscreens that are ‘broad spectrum’ as this means it will protect you against both.
How to apply
Sunscreen is a science, which means you can’t just slap it on willy-nilly and be done with it - especially when it comes to our face. This means the only way to truly be protected against the sun is to apply it over every area that is exposed to UVA/UVB. While we all do our best to protect ourselves, it’s likely you’re probably missing some small unassuming area that makes the perfect landing ground for skin damage. Here are some pro tips and tricks for applying your sunscreen.
Make sure you cover all the exposed areas
Sunlight has a strange impact on skin cells when they are exposed - namely mutation (which is how skin cancers happen). While our skin cells usually will replicate normally, once they become damaged or mutated - they will start to replicate more mutated cells. To put it simply, is not good.
Pigmentation, freckles, and dark spots are also different ways these damaged cells might appear on the skin. All this being said - it’s important to ensure that all areas that are exposed to rays are protected. Places like the bridge of your nose, forehead, scalp, shoulders, feet and ears are all tilted skywards which means they catch the most sunlight. This means they will need the most ample coverage as they don’t have any shadow interference to help protect them. While applying sunscreen to your scalp comes with obvious challenges - try wearing a hat.
Always reapply throughout the day
Sunscreen, unfortunately, is not a set-and-forget kind of thing. Even if the sunscreen you’re wearing says it's waterproof - if you get out of the water and aggressively towel off, you are removing the sunscreen from your skin. That’s why it pays to not be shy with reapplication - as this is your best defence. If you’re going to work, take facial sunscreen in your handbag with you and reapply around lunchtime - this is especially important if you sit in front of a computer every day, because yep - that blue light can damage your skin as well!
Allow time for absorption
This is important all year round but especially in the summer when you’re about to step out into direct sunlight. The sun can start doing damage from the minute you step outside, and while it depends largely on your skin tone and type, in general, it can happen immediately.
While all sunscreen formulas are slightly different, most take roughly 15 minutes to absorb into the skin. So make sure you’re giving yourself enough time before you step outside. Also, don’t be stingy with your application, some sunscreens will expire after a few years and become less potent over time. So use them up!
Which sunscreen to buy
By now you’ve probably gathered that unless you’re committing to wearing a full-coverage caftan and wide-brimmed hat all year, you need to be equipped with a high-quality SPF for both face and body.
And you don’t have to suffer through it, seeing that there are a range of fab options on the market. Not all sunscreens are made equal, and it’s worth investing in a good one to ensure you’re giving yourself the best protection. Our Daily Antioxidant Defence SPF30 ticks all the mandatory boxes. This moisturising sheer sunscreen provides daily broad-spectrum and antioxidant defence for your skin. It protects against both UVA and UVB, while also incorporating hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate for a hydrating boost. It’s lightweight, while also being super effective and it’s gentle enough to be used on sensitive skin. Tick tick tick!
While we’re in no way saying that protecting your skin from the sun is an easy task, putting a broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen on exposed areas is the one thing you can do. Other than that, just remember to reapply throughout the day and don’t forget about that hat.