Is the sun shining where you are? I hope so! It shines here a lot, in fact virtually every day. Even if the sun is not shining where you are the sun is up there somewhere doing its thing. We hear so much from many sources about the damage the sun can cause on unprotected skin even through those pesky clouds. We cannot live our lives indoors, we’d all get rickets so, we need to use sun protection when we go out into the sun.
Sun protection is not necessarily just a question of covering ourselves in sun cream. Wearing a hat, having quality lenses in our sunglasses, avoiding direct sun at peak times of day (1pm -4pm), covering shoulders whilst out and about & how about a classical parasol with UV protection (you can find one here). These are just some other ways to protect ourselves from the sun.
Living here in The Atlantic we can take all the little other ways to protect ourselves from the sun but sunscreen is an absolute essential. The array of products out there is truly mind boggling. If, like me you have allergies (those pesky parabens & synthetic fragrances are not my friends) it can be tricky to know which product is safe to use and which are going to be the most effective.
What Is Sunscreen Made Of?
Do you really want the full technical spec and a chemistry lesson? Nah, didn’t think so! However, there are some new technologies and ingredients that should be influencing our choice of sunscreen products.
The most essential element to look for in your sunscreen is multi spectrum. Unless it’s multi spectrum your sunscreen is not going to protect you from UVA, only UVB.
- UVB rays – causes sunburn, damage to the skin DNA which can lead to skin cancer
- UVA rays – Causes wrinkles (aghhhhhh!) because it penetrates our skin to a deeper level and increases the risk of skin cancer.
- The World Health Organisation says increased exposure to UVA & UVB suppresses our immune system
Some of the chemical and synthetic active ingredients used in sunscreen are Avobenzone Oxyebenzone, Octinoxate, Retinyl Palmitate, Homosalate & Octocrylene.
If you prefer a sunscreen that uses mineral active ingredients look for zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide on the ingredient list.
L’Oreal developed an ingredient, Mexoryl that makes sunscreen multi spectrum because it protects not only against UVB but UVA too. Whereas traditional sunscreen only protects against UVB. Multi spectrum protection has to be the way forward, anything that improves protection has to be a good thing!
Factor This In
Factor 15. What does the 15 mean. Simply it means, for example, if your skin takes 10 minutes to go red in the sun using factor 15 will let you stay in the sun for 15 x 10 minutes; 150 minutes. SPF 15 screens 93% of the the UVB rays but a SPF 30 protects against 97% of the UVB rays and SPF 50 98% of the rays so factor 30 will not protect you 30 times longer and so on for factor 50.
Multi Spectrum, Can I Find It?
Yes, is the answer and it’s not that tricky either. To make it easier, here is a Really Useful little list all with some handy shopping links. The first link is a UK and Europe source, the second link is a source for The USA.
- La Roche Porsay Here & Here
- Avene Eau Thermal Here & Here
- Aveeno Here & Here
- Shiseido Wet Force Here & Here
- Sunbum Here (USA only I’m afraid. I would love to try this one. You can find it on Amazon in UK but it ships from USA so is a bit cost prohibitive)
- Soleil Toujours (Organic) Here & Here
These are the three I am going to try out for myself –
- La Roche Porsay. Made by L’Oreal using their patented multi spectrum formula
- Shiseido Wet Force. This is a very new technical product that has its effectiveness actually increased on contact with water – Pool – here I come!
- Soleil Toujours – This product is multi spectrum, organic and paraban free so personally I couldn’t ask for more
And now in order to test these multi spectrum sunscreens I must go and look for the sun. If you have a favourite multi spectrum sunscreen you can share your thoughts through the comments below.