As I sit here writing this, it’s pouring down with rain and looking more like October than July.
I’d like to lay blame at the builders across the street, ever since they started to work on the roof it’s done an awful lot of raining….
Anyway, onto the purpose of what I’m writing about this Tuesday afternoon in July – UV Awareness.
From as long as I can remember I’ve always tried to get a tan. Sitting out in the garden with my mum, just lying there, which at the young age of around 6 years old was quite boring!
As I’ve grown up, I’m sure like many of you, I got sun-burnt – a lot! Especially those patches on your back that you can’t quite get to. I’ve been known to put sunscreen on a door and rub my back up and down it, in the vain hope that some will be rubbed in, just to prevent that all too familiar burn.
Since 2012, when I was diagnosed with an Auto-Immune condition and prescribed Immuno-suppressants, I’ve had to keep out of the sun. One of the side effects of these drugs is that your skin is more fragile, and takes longer to regenerate and heal when it’s been damaged.
There were a few things that I didn’t know about the Sun and the difference between UVA, UVB & UVC rays. So, to save you feeling the burn, I looked at a number of websites to find out more which I’ve summarised below. I hope that you find it helpful.
UVA does not cause sunburn but does penetrate deeper into the skin than UVB.
At the Earth’s surface approximately 95% of solar UV radiation is comprised of UVA. Exposure to high doses of UVA can cause indirect DNA damage, can age your skin, cause damage to your eyes and cause skin cancer. Sunbeds give off mainly UVA radiation, in some countries they have been classified as carcinogenic.
UVB is the primary cause of sunburn.
UVB is mainly responsible for causing skin cancer and the development of malignant melanoma. Approximately 90% of UVB radiation is absorbed by Ozone, Water Vapour, Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide. UVB radiation does not penetrate as deeply into the skin as UVA, and is mostly absorbed by the outermost layer of the skin (the epidermis).
The most damaging of all, UVC radiation is removed by the Ozone layer so it never makes it to the Earth’s surface. However, continued damage to the ozone layer by CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and halon gases may allow UVC radiation to reach the Earths surface.
So those are some of the facts, now what can you do to help keep your skin safe and in tiptop condition, avoiding the burn and the dreaded ageing effect the Sun has?
As a Massage Therapist, I work with skin all the time and advise my clients on an inside -out approach to healthy skin and sunscreen.
There are many sunscreen products on the market to choose from, lotions, oils, creams and sticks, but do you want a sunscreen or a sunblock? What is the difference?
Finding a sunscreen you really like and protects you can be a challenge, but the whole point of a sunscreen is to prevent UV radiation from damaging your body.
So the best sunscreen for you is one that meets your needs, doesn’t irritate your skin, offers the protection you require (based on the UV index for where you are going/live). I also look for those products that haven’t been tested on animals and are certified Organic.
What’s difference between sunscreen and sunblock?
Sunscreen products allow the sun’s rays to penetrate the skin, but alter the wavelength of the UV rays to a safe level, which in turn releases them. The interaction of the chemical in the sunscreen and UV allows the sunscreen to absorb the UV prior to skin penetration.
Sunblock, on the other hand, works by preventing the sun’s rays from penetrating the skin. This is done by reflection or absorption of the rays. In times of old, sunblock used to sit on top of your skin and had a white appearance. However, nano-technology has assisted manufacturers with making some sun blocking ingredients invisible to the eye so no more pasty white skin! The active ingredients in sunblock are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
What is SPF?
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) shows to what degree a product prevents sunburn. As we now know sunburn is caused by UVB rays and since SPF only indicates a level of protection against sunburn, it is important to use broad spectrum sun lotions, which will offer protection against both UVA and UVB. You should keep in mind that doubling the value of the SPF doesn’t mean double the protection. SPF 15 blocks roughly 93% of UVB, SPF 30 blocks roughly 97% of UVB and SPF 50 blocks 99% of UVB.
Apply your chosen sunscreen regularly, especially after swimming, drying with a towel or sweating(!).
Make sure you apply it to the backs of your legs, backs of knees, your back, neck and feet.
Using lip balm that contains a sunscreen will keep your lips in kissable form, preventing them from drying out.
Stay out of the sun when it’s at its hottest, between 11am – 2pm. Stick to the shade if you’re out and about, making sure you’re covered up.
Sunlight reflects off water and snow. Basically anything that causes Sun glare, has the ability to burn the skin, so be sure to wear protection.
Some medications, such as anti-depressants, Immuno-suppressants, antibiotics and birth control can make your skin sensitive and increase the risk from UV exposure so extra protection is required.
When we’ve spent the day by the pool or on the beach, walking the hills or sitting in the garden and we’re a little bit pink. What should we use to calm our delicate skin?
There are many brands of after sun, my preferred soother of choice is the healing properties of Lavender Essential Oil, just a little bit goes a long way and has an almost immediate effect.
What’s a good skincare regime?
Moisturise, Moisturise, Moisturise!!
Drink lots of water to keep the skin hydrated.
Dry brush your skin lightly in the direction of the heart, this removes dead skin cells and boosts circulation.
Moisturise after dry brushing and after showering,
Eat a diet high in Omega oils 3, 6 & 9
Regular Massages (well I couldn’t leave that out could !!!). Having a regular massage boosts the lymphatic system and circulation which helps to rid the body of the toxins we absorb on a daily basis and assists with restful sleep!
Products I love
I’m a great believer in natural and, Soil Association certified, organic products, and my clients know I use a mix of these in my therapies.
The new formulation from Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic Sun Care range is amazing. There’s no Nano technology in any of the products but the Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide disappear into the skin whilst still offering the same level of protection and no ghostly white skin.
The Chamomile and Aloe Vera After Sun Spray is really effective for when you’ve stopped out in the sun just that little bit too long. They smell gorgeous and no animals have been harmed in their formulation. A winner all round!!
Top Tip – I like to remember the difference between UVA and UVB as…..
UV Ageing UV Burning
Above all, whatever sunscreen you use, please stay safe in the sun and anything on your skin, such as a mole, that looks suspicious, get it checked out by a doctor.
Information Sources & further info links