The Facts of Light - UVA/UVB & what it means to me

Get smart or get burned!

SO the warmer months are approaching and its time to review the facts of UV and light and the effect it has on your skin.

Since the launch of the new Concentrated CC+ we’ve noticed just how many questions there are out there at the moment - so strap yourself in for the SPF ABCs.

UV rays remain the number one influence of ageing, skin damage and the risk to developing skin cancer. Yet most of us still do not understand how to protect our skin optimally.

Sun-damage manifests in interesting ways when it comes to our skin. It is the key creator of pigmentation; the number one exacerbator of rosacea and developing capillaries & the single most effective agent in destroying collagen and elastin in the skin leading to skin thinning and wrinkles.

Not to forget the agent responsible for increasing our risk of skin cancer.

Shop the Concentrated CC+.

Early intervention is prevention!

'Early intervention is prevention' is one of my key mantras. But its never too late to start protecting and repairing the damage caused by UV. Before We deep dive into the science behind the radiation emitted by the sun, let’s recap those sun safe principles. 

Hot tips that won’t burn :

1. Avoid the peak times.

SPF should never be an excuse to get outside and roast - Stay indoors and avoid peak UV times whenever you can. Most importantly when the intensity of the UV rays is at its greatest between 9-4pm. When this is unavoidable the next steps come into play!

2. It’s a cover up!

Shirts, hats and sunnies are a must! One of the biggest excuses I get from patients who have suffered sun damage is ‘I don’t even spend that much time in the sun’. Well here is your wake up call! Whenever we step out for a coffee, jump in the car (yes UVA penetrates glass so you are getting damages driving), or stroll through the park our skin is exposed to the destructive effects of the free radical producing sun!

So, think outside the box. Something like gloves for driving will help those hands cope (remember they are a tell tale sign of accelerated ageing). I also keep a scarf in the car to throw over my neck and chest to stop damage.

Sunscreen tips and understanding UVA and UVB:

1. Broaden your horizons and your spectrum.

Sunlight has 2 types of damaging UV rays (huff): UVB and UVA.

UVB are shorter higher energy wave lengths that cause burning and skin cancer by hitting and damaging the outside layers of the skin or the epidermis.

UVA are longer, lower energy wave lengths BUT penetrate deeper creating more age related damage as well as skin cancer.

SO you need a broad spectrum, sun protecting product that covers both UVA and UVB. 

Shop the Concentrated CC+.

2. Physical blockers over chemical blockers:

Not all sunscreens are created equally, and if you know anything about me and my approach you’ll understand why I prefer physical blockers to chemical blockers.

In a super summary -

Chemical blockers: Use chemical agents to absorb and disarm the harmful UV from damaging  the skin. The issue here is firstly that chemical sunscreens are the ones that cause allergic reactions and skin conditions. Secondly, although it blocks your skin from absorbing UV, this process does have a range of by-products that are absorbed by our bodies. Good news is there is no research supporting that this is damaging to the skin.

Physical blockers: as the name implies, physical blockers create a physical barrier or mask on the skin, reflecting the sun’s damaging rays. Made from Zinc and/or titanium dioxide, these products are inert meaning they have no reaction and do not create any allergies. Perfect therefore for sensitive skin types.

3. Sun protection is like an onion - Layer upon layer upon layer (you get the point) :

Let me make one thing crystal clear - if you under apply your sunscreen you WILL NOT, and I repeat WILL NOT receive the protection outlined on the bottle. Application is everything - this means a teaspoon (at least) to face, neck and décolletage. Plus a teaspoon per limb of your body.

4. Check expiry date:

If your sunscreen is expired, so has your time in the sun. It’s the same as any active product, once it’s reached it’s shelf life the claim on the front cannot be guaranteed. From that stage you are on your own, and in some cases no better off than wearing nothing at all.

5. Heat can reduce the effectiveness

Sunscreen needs to be stored correctly. Don’t leave it in your boot on a 45 degree day and expect that the lava like mixture that comes out of the tube is going to offer you the same protection as one that has been left in a cool dry place.

6. To SPF 30 and beyond.

This is what is recommended by the cancer council. 15 just DOESN'T cut it. We all under-apply by up to half of what is recommended to get the protection labelled on the tube.

If you under apply SPF by half - it doesn’t directly correlate to giving you half the protection. The drop off is far steeper and in fact you may end up with only a quarter of the protection advertised on the bottle (its an exponential drop off). This means the higher you start the more protected you’ll be.

Sunlight also has benefits!

It’s pretty easy to slip into the thought pattern that sunlight is all bad - however it does have it’s benefits - one of the main ones being it provides your body with a vital source of vitamin D.

Now I would never recommend running outside and tanning all day to get your vitamin D hit - instead follow the sun safety guidelines I’ve outlined above and opt for a vitamin D supplement (more on this to come).

We will be going into way more detail about other forms of light and radiation such as visible and infrared as well as busting some skin tone myths regarding vitamin D and ageing.

But for now, to learn more about my range of clinical strength skincare click here.