Know Your Sun Cream
Summer is just around the corner and it is likely that you will be spending a lot more time under the sun. With that comes risk. Risks from overexposure to the sun can include sunburn but also skin cancer. To reduce the risk, you will need protection from a sun cream, also known as sunscreen. With so many options out there, it can be daunting making sure that you have the risk sun cream to protect you.
What is the best sun cream?
This is a tricky question to answer. This is because there isn’t just a singular thing that you should be looking for. For many, they will only look at the Sun Protection Factor, more commonly referred to as SPF.
What does SPF mean?
The Skin Protection Factor is a measurement of the protection from UVB rays. UVB rays, a type of ultraviolet ray that comes from the sun and is a form of radiation, is thought to be the cause of numerous types of skin cancer. There are three types of UV ray:
UVC doesn’t come through the Earth’s ozone layer and isn’t much of a threat. UVA is linked to cell ageing and long-term damage but is said to not be as damaging as UVB.
SPF rating focuses on UVB, and the rating determines the amount of protection offered in terms of time it would take for a sunburn to take effect. For example, an SPF 15 rated sun cream such as this Ambre Solaire Spray, will offer 15 times the protection than if you didn’t use any sun cream. An SPF 50 sun cream, such as Nivea Sun Kids Moisturising Sun Spray, will offer 50 times the protection of not having any sun cream on.
Is an SPF 30 sun cream twice as good as an SPF 15 sun cream then?
It is logical to think that is the case, but it is not true. It is said that an SPF 15 cream blocks about 94% of UVB rays and an SPF 30 sun cream block 97% of rays.
Does a higher SPF rating mean more protection from UVA rays?
In a word, no. There is a separate rating for UVA which is the UVA Star Rating. This goes up to five stars for the best protecting sun cream. If you see the letters ‘UVA’ in a circle on a bottle of sun cream, then that means that it meets the EU standard but it doesn’t give you the level of protection that it offers.
Will the same SPF rating mean the same UVA Star Rating?
Not at all. This was brought up in a post on Facebook that went viral, which highlighted the difference between sun creams with the same SPF rating.
Basically, the in order to get the best protecting sun cream, you need to look at both ratings to get the full picture.
So the SPF rating is useless?
Well, it does give you an indicator of the level of protection but it isn’t an accurate representation of the real difference between sun creams.
What sun cream would you recommend?
Find the highest SPF rated sun cream with a high UVA rating, at least four stars. That way, you are getting the excellent protection from both types of UV ray.
When it comes to sun cream, it is also about the user. Whatever sun cream you use, you have to make sure you are applying it correctly, and regularly, in order to maintain protection from the UVA and UVB rays.
This week, 14th-20th May is Sun Awareness week which has been organised by the British Association of Dermatologists which is aiming to raise awareness for the dangers of the sun, and the potential damage it can cause to your skin if you do not take the right precautions.