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SPF Tips- How to apply SPF, Can SPF Feel Nice & My Top SPF products.


When Should You Start Wearing SPF?


Even though I had been an NHS doctor for a number of years it wasn’t until I followed my passion to set up my business and took it upon myself to do more learning on skin health that I started to wear SPF regularly. This wasn’t until my late 20s! And it wasn’t the risk of skin cancer that tipped me over into an SPF addict but pictures like this;






This man was a truck driver and it shows how the side of his face aged much more all down to the sun always hitting it on one side!

 

Vanity won.


Why should you wear SPF?


This picture says a thousand words. UV exposure is responsible for over 80% of signs of skin aging. This goes beyond wrinkling and includes pigmentation, melasma and precancerous lesions. It is also a very important part of a skincare routine as is integral for antiaging, for tolerance of active ingredients like retinoids and to reduce breakouts, rosacea, dermatitis, pigementation and much more.


Ideally we would all start wearing SPF regularly from child hood, but no shame, just start now if you haven’t already. You will thank yourself for it!



UV exposure ages skin and increases risk of skin cancer so why do we love tans?


Having an olive skin tone and tanning easily without ever burning made concerns about cancer seem irrelevant. In the 00’s/ 2010s you HAD to be uber tanned and this meant Hawaiian Tropic was chosen every time over Amber Solaire. Still now, we often associate a bronzed colour with healthy vigour and a fabulous jet set lifestyle.


I am not ashamed to admit that. Firstly, if you don’t know, how you are expected to take action and for me educating my patients to take control of their own skin health is my top priority. Secondly, in youth you are fearless; until it has happened to you or someone close to you how can you truly understand risk.


Yes, understanding is important but I, like pretty many of my patients, had only experienced greasy and thick SPFs. Why would I want to put that on my face? I had to find a product I liked to be able to use it as often as I should.


How much SPF should you apply? How Often Should You Apply SPF?


When applying to your face & neck the aim is to apply around 2-3 finger lengths each and every day, whether it is cloudy or you are inside. You should then reapply regularly through the day, as much as 2 hourly especially if you are in direct and intense sun or if you are sweating or swimming so the product it’s being washed off.


I am a realist, and I know this will likely not happen, definitely not if you don’t like the product so my list of requirements for SPF was not short!


What is a good SPF?


I have irritable skin but also break out prone skin so want a product that is non-comedogenic and will not worsen any inflammation. And over-archingly I want it to absorb quickly, not sit heavy and blend with my skin tone, whilst of course giving me adequate protection from the sun.


As with all your skin care, your skin needs at different times of the year will vary. So I finally found a handful of products that give me what I need. Through the year I cycle through ; ZO Skin Health Sheer Fluid, Obagi Sunshield Cool Tinted and Heliocare Gel Oil Free or La Roche Posay- Anthelios.


 All of these meet the requirements needed to protect my skin from harmful UV as they are all Factor 50, Broad Spectrum, Infra-red inclusive.  They are all pretty much mainly mineral (physical) sunscreens and fragrance free so are great for irritable, sensitive or pigment prone skin.


My Top Best SPFs as a Skin Doctor- How to choose an SPF


I tend to use ZO Skin Health Sheer Fluid over Winter & Spring. I love to go essentially bare-face and only opt to put on a bit of blusher. This is super light weight, so quick to apply, dry and then pop make up on top if you want, but it is formulated to smooth out appearance of skin tone and texture without using a for tint, so you can easily go without. It also has the benefit of combining antioxidants in it too for added protection.


I reach for my Obagi Cool Tint Product during the Summer months or on days I want a bit more coverage as this range is tinted to match your skin tone and give a bit of a glow. Even if I want a more done look for a summer night I never feel like I need powder or foundation on top. Reducing make-up use is great and this combined with the fact it has antiinflammatory active likes niacinamide is great to reduce congestion and breakouts.


For hot city days or lazy days on the beach it is my helio-care product that I use. It is super easy to apply and blend without a mirror and really hydrating yet not heavy and has antoxidants so helps sooth skin from heat yet avoid congestion.


My La-Roche spf is a fab one to have in all my bags incase I forget to pack my regular product, as it does not break the bank so you don’t feel bad buying a few at once. A powder sunscreen can also be a great option to quickly reapply in the day and both ZO SkinHealth and ColourScience offer tone-matching products.


Are expensive SPFs better?


You can definitely get great SPFs at lower price points. Opt for a product that has clear labelling and cover the key aspects as above (Factor 50, broad spectrum, UVA+UVB, IR inclusive). However, I do find there are benefits to spending a bit more or a prescription grade or medical grade product, particularly if you would like your product to multitask or have very sensitive skin.


Often I do find the usability of the prescription brands to be better and generally they are tested on all skin types and formulated in a nicer way, aiming to also hydrate and sooth, and include antioxidants and antiinflammatory actives such as Vit E, Vit C and niacinamide which work with the classical SPF to provide more cover from UV and other aging particles in the air such as pollution.


Need help choosing an SPF?


SPF is such an important part of any skin routine, whether it is from an antiaging perspective, to reduce acne breakouts and rosacea, or to minimise pigmentation. In clinic I work with both Obagi and ZO but can also guide you in finding a fab over the counter option.

 

 

 

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