Friday, 06 April 2018

Everything To Know When Choosing an SPF

The three magic letters that hold the secret to anti-ageing: SPF. We all know how important it is to wear SPF “ we talk about it enough! “ and it seems our favourite brands understand the importance too. But with so many elements such as texture, factor strength and protection type to take into consideration, how do you know which option is right for you?

We thought it would be useful to break it down into manageable chunks so you can master the SPF and safely enjoy soaking up some rays.The first thing to consider is your skin type. Most skins fall into 1 of 3 categories:
  • Dry
  • Oily
  • Diffused redness
Once you've worked out which skin type you are, it will narrow down your choices of sun cream.


As an oily, acne prone and self-proclaimed problematic skin myself, I can honestly say it is possible to find an SPF that won't leave you bubbling up with breakouts. Since many SPFs offer a heavy and moisturised finish, it's important to choose something that is oil free. This will reduce shine and prevent congestion in the warmer seasons. Gel and mousse formulations are also a great pick for those with over productive sebaceous glands.Our top picks for oily skins:Heliocare 360 Gel Oil-Free SPF 50 - This oil-free, dry touch sunscreen protects skin against UVA/UVB rays, visible light and IR-A (infrared radiation -A). The sunscreen is also enriched with Fernblock technology, a powerful antioxidant supported by actives, which helps to repair sun damage.Image Skincare Prevention+ Daily Matte Moisturiser SPF 32 - Some oil-free sunscreens can leave skin feeling dry; this SPF moisturises and hydrates skin. The micro-sponge technology absorbs skin's surface oils to leave skin with a matte, non-greasy and shine-free finish. Added antioxidant thiotaine protects skin against harmful free radicals.EVY Sunscreen Mousse SPF50 - This unique, non-sticky mousse formula is suitable for both face and body, is oil-free and doesn't contain alcohol or any other potentially irritating preservatives. The Proderm technology allows the mousse formula to penetrate and protect throughout the entire upper layer of skin for superior sun protection.


Mature or dry skin types often relish a healthy dose of suncream. The added hydration and silky texture can create a soft and nourished base. Cream sunscreens are the best choice to prevent further dryness. Many moisturisers for dry skins contain SPF already, but I always recommend using an additional SPF, particularly in summer.Our top picks for dry skins:Heliocare Silk Gel SPF 30 - This SPF from Heliocare leaves skin with a soft and silky finish for high daily sun protection against UVA/UVB related damage such as photoageing and sunspots. The sunscreen also includes Heliocare's Fernblock technology, a powerful antioxidant supported by actives, which helps to repair sun damage.Mesoestetic Moisturising Sun Protection SPF 50+ - Skin is hydrated with this lightweight formula, which is ideal for daily use but gentle enough to care for post-procedure skin. Both physical and chemical filters combine to provide an exceptionally high level of protection against UVA and UVB rays.


Red, sensitive or rosacea skins often struggle with the thought of using suncream. Some suncreams contain chemicals, perfumes and irritants that can aggravate the skin worsening the condition or skin concern. It's all about trial and error with a red skin and finding a base that feels comfortable for you.Our top pick for red skins:Ultrasun Extreme Sunscreen SPF 50+ - This SPF is perfect for highly sensitive skin, providing powerful protection in a gentle, smooth formula that nourishes skin whilst protecting against UVA and UVB rays. 

Physical or chemical?

So you've picked your base, let's take a look at the type of protection that works best. All sunscreens fall into one of two categories: physical or chemical.Physical blockers work by deflecting UV rays from the skin. Ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide create a 'film' like occlusion on the outer layers to act like a shield from harmful UV radiation.Pros: Good for red/rosacea skins as they prevent heat from entering the skin and should avoid crossing the skin's barrier, therefore preventing further irritation.Cons: Can leave a white residue on the surface. Flashes from photographs will reflect and can cause the face to appear extra light in pictures. These are also not a good choice for acne prone skins as they can lead to further outbreaks.Chemical blockers such as avobenzone and homosalate absorb UV rays, destroying them before they can have a harmful effect.Pros: These are invisible sunblocks that can be worn with ease under makeup without leaving any white marks.Cons: In some cases, chemical blockers can make a specific type of pigmentation called Melasma worse. Whilst absorbing UV rays they also draw heat into the skin, which can trigger this type of pigmentation.

Factor Strength

There are lots of misconceptions around the factor number of an SPF. Many people think the higher the factor the better; on the other hand some think wearing a factor 50 will ruin their Tenerife tan.It's important to note that the factor number of an SPF is an indication as to how long you can stay exposed to the sun without burning, compared to that of wearing no SPF at all. Since everybody's skin has a different tolerance to sun, it's important that you find the factor that works best for you.

So how does SPF work?

If it takes 20 minutes for your unprotected skin to start turning red, using an SPF 15 theoretically prevents burning for 15 times longer about five hours. Not so good at working out the maths? Another way to think of it is in terms of percentages:
  • SPF 15 filters out approximately 93% of all UVB rays
  • SPF 30 keeps out 97%
  • SPF 50 keeps out roughly 98%
This may seem like a tiny difference, I mean what's in a couple of per cent? But if you are on light-sensitising medication, have a history of skin cancer or are of the blonde haired blue-eyed variety, those extra percentages will make a big difference.I prefer all my patients to wear an SPF of at least 30 during the winter and no less than SPF 50 in summer or when on vacation. You will still get colour but hopefully avoid the dreaded sunburn and prevent the post holiday peel!And just when you think you have it all sussedI throw another spanner into the works; UVA rays.Since reddening of the skin is caused by UVB rays, the factor SPF you choose isn't necessarily doing anything to protect against ageing, caused by UVA rays. It's these rays that lead to premature ageing in the skin and unfortunately these are present all year round. There is no escaping these pesky rays and they will find you! They penetrate through cloud and glass to get to you, which means unless you're willing to live in a cave; you will be exposed to these at some point.But don't panic! Most skincare manufacturers are well aware of the dangers of UVA and have taken extra precautions to protect your skin from been harmed. Look out for SPFs that contain antioxidants to help maintain skin's youth and keep the UVA rays far, far, away.If you are still unsure about which sunscreen is right for you, book your free consultation today to come and speak to one of our skin experts. For this month only, for every SPF purchased we are offering a free skin diagnostic examination using our state-of-the-art Observ 520.

What's the Observ 520?

This unique piece of equipment allows a dermatological view below the surface of the skin. The face mapping technology gives us a detailed look at the upper and lower layers of skin in order to detect changes, diagnose skin concerns and check for underlying complications. You will even get a copy of your photographs to take home with you!Call 0113 282 3300 for your free consultation today or for more information on sun protection!

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