The Ultimate SPF Guide
Even if the sun fails to make an appearance, sunscreen is a non-negotiable. But which SPF is best? Liberty explains it all...
If you're getting off to hotter climes, or simply staying put in the British drizzle, whatever the weather, we still need to protect our skin. And while knowing which SPF is best is an essential aspect of nailing your skincare routine, it really is a form of healthcare too.
With skin cancer diagnoses on the rise, any dermatologist you talk to will be about to embark on their annual (metaphorical – they’re busy people) trip out of the clinic with bell and sandwich board to traverse the streets warning us that sun exposure is the number one cause of skin cancer and premature ageing. And thankfully, the technology has advanced so drastically in the last decade that facial SPF no longer needs to feel like a layer of cling film or look like you are going to don a big red nose and perform at a children’s birthday party. When it comes to SPF, you really can have your cake and eat it.
Which SPF Is Best?
Sun protection factor can be confusing to navigate, but it’s just a measure of how much UV radiation, or how much of the sun’s energy, it takes to burn skin that is wearing sunscreen as opposed to skin that isn’t. The SPF number measures UVB rays – these are the ones which cause the skin’s surface to burn, but it’s UVA rays that have a longer-term impact on your skin. They penetrate deeper to have a long-term impact on the skin, causing damage responsible for pigmentation and premature ageing, as well as increasing the risk of skin cancer. For maximum protection, we should ideally be opting for a broad-spectrum SPF 50+. This will protect us against both UVA and UVB radiation.
Which SPF Is Best for my Skintone?
We should all be wearing SPF daily, all year round. It is a myth that people with deeper skin tones don’t need to wear SPF. Darker skin which is left unprotected can still experience sunburn, which can cause long-term damage. UV rays also prompt uneven skin tone and hyperpigmentation, which can lead to patchiness. It is crucial for deeper skin to be protected from the sun to prevent skin cancer and damage. Historically, SPF textures and finishes have not been at all inclusive, often leaving a chalky film that looked greyish on deeper skin tones. Thankfully, the technology has vastly improved, and people of all skin tones are being considered and included, so there is an SPF for everyone.
There’s SPF in my Moisturiser – Why Can’t I Just Use That?
Even if your foundation or day cream contains SPF, you still need a separate SPF for adequate UV protection. Most foundations and moisturisers are not water-resistant, so they won’t last as well on the skin, and won’t generally be applied thickly enough for you to get the benefit of the SPF content. Liberally applying a standalone SPF after your moisturiser will help to ensure that your skin is protected – but don’t forget your neck and ears!
Which SPF Should I Use, Then?
To choose the right SPF for your skin type, consider your needs – your skin type, whether you wear makeup and prefer a matte or glowing finish, and how long you will be in the sun for. Oily skin that’s prone to congestion may get on better with a light, oil-free texture with a matte finish, while those prone to dryness may prefer a richer texture that offers more radiance.