5 tips to being SPF-savvy
Here’s a sobering stat: Skin cancer is among the top 10 cancers for men and women in Singapore, with 3,089 new cases reported between 2010 and 2014! Skin cancer can take decades to surface and can develop as a result of excessive exposure to harmful UV rays from the sun, increased indoor tanning, and lack of regular sun protection. Conversely, a healthy dose of sunshine a day will increase vitamin D protection, which is known to reduce the risk of many internal cancers and osteoporosis. So where is the balance?
Being “sun smart” isn’t just for appearance and preventing sun spots (though it helps with that too)—it can also save your life.
Here are 5 tips for you to increase your “sun smart” quotient and allow you to enjoy that sunshine:
1. Know your SPF: Sun Protection Factor or SPF is a measure of protection from the amount of UVB exposure, Unlike UVA rays that cause wrinkles and premature-ageing, UVB rays stimulate the production of NEW melanin, cause sunburn and play a key role in the development of skin cancer. Having said that, sunscreens with high SPFs, such as SPF 75 or SPF 100, do not offer significantly greater protection than SPF 30 and mislead people into thinking they have more protection than they actually do. In fact, an SPF 30 sunscreen gives you merely ~4% more protection than an SPF 15 sunscreen. In short, choose a sunscreen with minimum SPF 15 for running daily errands and SPF 30 to SPF 50 if you are going to be under the sun for a prolonged period of time to prevent sunburn.
2. Reapply every 2 hours: Don’t wait till you are in the sun to apply your sunscreen! Sunscreen should be applied around half an hour before going outside to give it sufficient time to set. Also, the active ingredients in sunscreen break down when exposed to UV light i.e. the ingredients lose effectiveness over time. Therefore, it is recommended to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, and more often if you perspire or swim. Remember: even an SPF 100 sunscreen lasts for only 2 hours if not reapplied. And don’t forget the sensitive skin on your lips: do use a lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher.
3. Know your ingredients: There are two main types of sunscreen: sunscreens with a mineral barrier or a chemical one. Mineral sunscreens typically include ingredients such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide which create a physical barrier to protect the skin from the sun. Chemical sunscreens use chemicals like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Mineral sunscreens usually rate better than chemical sunscreens for safety, particularly if you have sensitive skin. You should try to avoid ingredients such as oxybenzone – which can behave like estrogen in the body, and retinyl palmitate- which may speed the development of skin tumors when exposed to sun.
4. Spray smart: Spray-on sunscreens have gained popularity because they promise quick and easy application especially for hard-to-reach areas of your body. However, a study done in 2015 has shown that people using sprays applied less sunscreen than people using creams. So, even though spray sunscreens are easier to apply and reapply, it may not be as effective than creams and lotions. More importantly, it may not be giving you adequate protection for all your sun-loving activities.
5. Clothing is not nearly enough: UV radiation is the main factor that causes skin ageing. While umbrellas, visors and loose long clothings are a step in the right direction, these provide only limited protection, particularly if you favor light clothing materials in the relentless Singapore sun. So, lather on and your skin will thank you for it.
When all’s said and done, the best sunscreen protection is one you’ll use, be it cream or lotion or spray. And if you are looking for a lightweight sunscreen that doesn’t clog your pores, you should try the ést.lab’s multi-award winning SunShield AQUA SPF 50! A revolutionary sunscreen protector that uses a combination of physical and chemical UV blocks, it doubles up as a tinted moisturising base, and it’s so gentle it’s even suitable for sensitive skin.
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