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Dr Rory Dower

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How to choose the right sunscreen to pack this holiday season

We all know the non-negotiable on our list to pack this holiday is sunscreen…but how do you know what to look for when choosing a high quality product? And does it need to cost an arm and a leg? Get informed about the latest research and the “new sun rules” and protect your skin this holiday season!

The sun’s harmful rays is a culprit in many of the skin conditions we treat. From skin cancer to pigmentation, fine lines or more extreme signs of premature ageing. You’ve grown up hearing about ultraviolet (UV) radiation like UVB and UVA rays. What you may not know is that UV rays makes up only 7% of the sun’s rays. New evidence shows that we now need protection against other wavelengths of light – HEV light (high-energy visible light) and IR-A (Infrared-A).

Top tips for high quality sunscreen and anti-ageingHEV light weakens the skin’s barrier function causing increased dryness and sensitivity, impaired immunity and healing, inflammation, wrinkles, skin sagging, and uneven pigmentation. Most HEV is emitted from the sun, but what’s important to know is that it can also be found in tech devices such as your smartphone, laptops, and computer screen (as well as fluorescent light bulbs).

Infrared light accounts for 50 per cent of the sun’s rays. IR-A penetrates the skin deeper than UVA and UVB and can cause free radical and cellular damage with effects which can include premature skin ageing, decreased skin elasticity, and increased wrinkling, but most worryingly, damage to the skin’s DNA that can have implications on your long-term health.

So what should you be looking for on the label of your sunscreen:

  1. The “new sun rules”Traditional sunscreens did not generally have IR-A and HEV protection – these days this is a non-negotiable
  2. UVB protection:

UVB rays causes sunburn and can lead to skin cancer. The SPF factor on your sunscreen rates how effective it is in preventing sunburn caused by this rays. If you’d normally burn in 10 minutes, SPF 15 multiplies that by a factor of 15, meaning you could go 150 minutes before burning.

Higher SPF numbers do mean more protection, but the higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes:

No sunscreen protects you completely. The FDA requires any sunscreen with SPF below 15 to carry a warning that it only protects against sunburn, not skin cancer or skin ageing.

Make sure your sunscreen has a sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher.

2. UVA protection:

UVA rays is mainly linked to long-term skin damage such as wrinkles, but is also thought to play a role in some skin cancers. There is no rating to tell you how good a sunscreen is at blocking UVA rays,  so when it comes to UVA protection, you need to pay attention to the ingredients. Look for a sunscreen that contains at least one of the following,

4. Photostability

This means that the filters in the sunscreen that give it the UV protection do not break down in the sun.

When you’re serious about protecting the “skin you are in” you need to be serious about wearing a high quality sunscreen on a daily basis. One of our favourites is the Heliocare 360° range because the products are

Below are three of our “favourites” in the Heliocare 360° range, along with the prices you can expect to pay

As featured in the Skin Therapy – Specialist Aesthetic Clinic December 2019 Newsletter