Keeping skin safe in the sun

The straw-hat season is finally here. But whilst we all rejoice in the summer sun, our skin does quite the opposite.

As we know, UVA and UVB rays can cause damage to skin and they’re at their strongest during the spring and summer months. Although you may presume aesthetic patients look after their skin, you might be surprised at  how little patients know about the importance of skin safety in the sun.

In fact, a poll by YouGov found that almost a quarter of people in Britain  don’t use any sun cream in the summer months. And 51 per cent of those who are wearing sunscreen are being left unprotected by using expired sunscreen.

So when you see your patients this season, be sure to give them the following advice.


Selecting sun cream

 It goes without saying that everyone should be wearing sun cream whilst in the sun. But do patients know what to consider when choosing and using their products?

There is a vast array of sun protection lotions available, all claiming to protect the skin. The general rule is the higher the SPF, the higher the protection, and dermatologists recommend using a broad-spectrum protection sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

However, what many patients are unaware of, is that the SPF only measures how effective the product is at preventing UVB rays – those that are responsible for burning of the skin and skin cancer. SPF doesn’t take into consideration UVA protection.

Yet UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin than UVB and play a major part in skin ageing. To get protection from UVA, inform patients to check for the product’s Protection Grade (PA) of UVA, or star rating. The higher the number of stars, or plus signs for PA rating, the better the protection.

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Beware of the myths

Over the years, patients are likely to have heard common misconceptions about sun protection. Below, we’ve highlighted three of the most common.


Myth 1: People with darker skin types don’t need to use sun protection

Answer: Incorrect!

Although the melanin in darker skin types provides some protection from some UV rays, it certainly doesn’t provide complete protection! In fact, darker skin types are more prone to pigmentation as a result of excess sun, so covering up is just as important.


Myth 2: My foundation has SPF protection so I don’t need to wear sunscreen on my face.

Answer: Incorrect!

Research suggests that you would actually need to apply seven times the amount of normal foundation and 14 times the normal amount of powder in order to get the full SPF that’s noted on the products. This means patients would have to be caked with makeup and powder to get that level of protection.


Myth 3: I’m in the pool a lot on holiday, so the water will protect me

Answer: Incorrect!

In fact, 5-10 per cent of harmful rays are reflected from the water, so even more of a reason to reapply regularly.

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Apply and reapply

Patients may purchase the best sun care protection out there, but if they’re not applying it properly, then they wont be efficiently protected. A survey by the British Association off Dermatologists (BAD) found that eight out of ten people fail to adequately apply sunscreen.

The National Institute for Care and Health Excellence (NICE) recommends that for optimum photoprotection, sunscreen preparations should be applied thickly and frequently, approximately every two hours.

For those on holiday, who may be dipping in and out of water, or in a very hot climate, then application should be even more frequent.

Patients may want a tan this summer, but for those cautious of skin ageing, a broad-spectrum sun cream is the number one summer essential.

Find out more information on how you can educate your patients on sun damage, including the common signs, here.

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