Why SPF Is So Important
Updated: Mar 6, 2020
I strongly believe that SPF should be the most important part of everyone’s skincare routine and in this post, I am going to go into why it is so key to wear sunscreen every single day and hopefully persuade you to commit to it! People are increasingly becoming wise to the fact that the sun ages our skin more than anything else but from talking to friends and clients, the majority of people still aren’t using SPF every day or they think that the SPF 15 in their foundation or moisturiser provides enough protection (which it definitely does not!). To get the level of SPF that it says on the bottle you need to apply quarter of teaspoon for your face and neck and I guarantee you are not putting that much foundation on!
The sun’s UVB rays are responsible for the skin burning whereas the sun’s UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and are responsible for 80% of premature ageing. People tend to wear SPF on holiday to protect against the UVB rays and prevent burning but don’t realise or forget that the UVA rays are there all year round (even in the winter) and penetrate through the clouds so even on the greyest, coldest of days, if you’re not wearing SPF, your skin will be getting damaged.
My philosophy is that there is no point investing a lot into looking after your skin with acids and retinols if you don’t use a dedicated SPF every day. Acids and retinols are brilliant but because they encourage cell turnover, they make the skin far more susceptible to sun damage so if you’re skipping the SPF then unfortunately you are undoing all of your good work.
It is completely understandable that people are reluctant to slather on SPF daily. Back in the day, sunscreen used to be thick, greasy, leave a white cast and cause breakouts but the good news is that there are so many different formulas and textures available to suit every skin type now.
There are two categories of filters used in SPF to protect the skin and these are referred to as chemical and mineral (or physical). The mineral filters used in SPF are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide and they block the UV rays from penetrating the skin. Most mineral SPFs have a combination of both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to provide broad spectrum protection from both UVA and UVB rays. The issue people typically have with mineral SPF filters is that they can be thicker in texture and leave a white cast on the skin but there are now many mineral SPFs that are either tinted or use nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which lessens the white cast.
There are far more chemical filters available and these include oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, octinoxate and Tinosorb. Chemical filters are different to mineral filters because they absorb the UV rays rather than block them. The main benefit of chemical filters is that they tend to be far more cosmetically elegant than mineral. They can come in gels, sprays, lotions or creams and don’t leave any white cast on the skin. However, chemical filters can sometimes be irritating to people with sensitive skin and some of the filters make my eyes sting and water. Another issue with chemical filters is that some of them are unstable and break down very quickly so it is very important to reapply them frequently throughout the day. I tend to look for chemical SPFs with Tinosorb (listed as Bemotrizinol or Bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine) as the filter because this one is considered more stable than the others. Also worth noting that some chemical filters have now been banned in certain areas to protect coral reefs.
I hope this introductory overview about SPF was helpful. I will be posting a lot of my SPF recommendations for different skin types over the next few months so stay tuned!