TODAY'S TAN tomorrow's wrinkle?

Tan advice


In an ideal world none of us would go in the sun. Apart from causing skin cancer, it prematurely ages skin - both by causing lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation and in ways that are less obvious but manifest collectively to make skin look older than its years. So can you enjoy the sun, get a bit of a tan and protect your skin at the same time? Well, while dermatologists say that no sun exposure is safe, sunscreen offers the prerequisite protection if you want to actively be in it. But it's vital to get the right protection - always broad spectrum (which means you are protected from UVA and UVB) - and a high sun protection factor (SPF). I've addressed some more FAQs below ..

What's the meaning of SPF and which level is the right one for me?

The level of SPF multiplied by the amount of time it takes you to burn without sunscreen = the minutes of protection that you will get by using that level of sun screen.

For example (and as an approximate guide only)

Skin Colouring Natural Burning Time (minutes w/o sun protection) Max. protection with SPF30 (minutes with SPF30 protection) Max. protection with SPF 40 (minutes with SPF40 protection)
Very Fair 2 60 minutes 80 minutes
Fair 4 120 minutes 160 minutes
Medium 8 240 minutes 360 minutes
Olive 10 300 minutes 400 minutes

Generally, the lighter the skin and hair colour, the more sensitive we are to sun damage. A good rule of thumb is that if you have lighter skin, you need to use a higher SPF. Of course, the recommended SPF level is also dependent on the strength of the sun. Very strong sun will demand a higher SPF number, so this should be factored into your calculations.

After applying sun screen, why do I need to wait before going in the sun?

After applying sunscreen to your skin, it typically requires a few minutes to be absorbed into the first few layers of the skin. So you can expect better results from sunscreen when you allow time for this absorbance to occur.

My moisturiser has an SPF, can this be used instead of a specific facial sunscreen?

Formulation is as important as SPF when it comes to environment. For daily outdoor activities, a formulation that is most comfortable on the skin - like UV-protective moisturiser - is adequate. For the beach, water or outdoor athletic activities, choose a highly water resistant or waterproof formula. These formulas not only maintain their efficacy in water, but are also physically more substantive so that they have a greater probability of adhering to skin under conditions such as increased activity, sand rubbing on skin, etc. The environment is the determining factor for the formulation.

If my sunscreen says 'water resistant/waterproof', do I need to reapply after being in the swimming pool/sea?

Nothing lasts forever, so even if a sunscreen is water resistant or waterproof it can be rubbed off with sand and surf. To ensure that your skin is protected, reapply sunscreen often, especially after exposure to water.

Should sunscreen still be applied even when the sun is not out?

Sun protection is necessary all year round and even on a cloudy day. UVB, or burning rays, are strongest in the summer and weakest in the winter, so you see fewer sunburns in the winter (except for sun-burned skiers). However, UVA, or ageing rays, are strong all year round. So skin is as equally susceptible to photo-ageing and increased skin cancer risks in the winter and on a cloudy day. That's why suncare excperts advise wearing sunscreen every day.

Can I wear clothing rather than SPF to keep me protected while actively in the sun?

There's a common misperception that fabric will protect you from the sun, but not all fabric will. In general, the thicker the fabric, the more protection it gives so the best choice is to wear the thickest fabric you can comfortably wear. Colour will not affect protection.

How often and how much sunscreen should be applied?

Sunscreen should be applied generously, leaving a thin film on the skin, 20 to 30 minutes prior to exposure. Reapply generously every 2 hours, and more frequently after going swimming.

We all need some sun exposure; it's our primary source of vitamin D, which helps us absorb calcium for stronger, healthier bones. But it doesn't take much time in the sun for most people to get the vitamin D they need, and repeated unprotected exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays can cause skin damage, eye damage, immune system suppression, and skin cancer. Even people in their twenties can develop skin cancer. Most children rack up a lot of their lifetime sun exposure before age 18, so it's important that parents teach their children how to enjoy fun in the sun safely. With the right precautions, you can greatly reduce your child's chance of developing skin cancer