Tuesday, 7 September 2010

To SPF or not to SPF, that is the question......

In a perfect world, there would only be one answer to this question, wear SPF!
The Ultrasun Range
Unfortunately, there seem to be two camps, those who are slightly SPF obsessed and wear it religiously and look to convert others and those who feel it is a waste of time and money.  I am now strictly in the first camp, but my mother, despite my best efforts, is in the latter.

You may be thinking that we hardly get any sun and when we do, you want to make the most of it, after all it makes us feel good and a tan is the perfect accessory - you look slimmer and it hides a load of flaws.

When the tan fades though it is a different story. The skin can be dehydrated and look worse than it was before. Pigmentation can become a problem and you will only see the true effects of any sun damage years in the future.

Sun damage is one of the main causes of premature aging (I'm not even going to go into all the medical issues like skin cancer), and you only need to look at the TV show '10 Years Younger' to see the potential consequences of this summer's glowing tan.

I learnt the hard way how damaging the sun can be. At 16 I got my first ever part-time job in a tanning salon and it was an unwritten rule that we had to use the sunbeds ourselves to entice customers with our tans. Being young and somewhat naive, I went along with this and was thoroughly bronzed from 16 to 18. Since then, I have never used them and never would, knowing how bad they are for you. Now I am pale and proud!

Nearly 10 years later (I'm 26 in October), the effects of that time are evident. I have pigmentation, one very prominent sun spot under my eye that nothing will fade, and necklace lines on my neck and decollete. I really hope that this post might prevent others making the same mistakes I did.

The plus side is that sun creams and fake tans have improved dramatically in the last decade and the rise in beautifully pale celebrities has shown that tanning is by no means necessary. There is now no excuse for returning from holiday with red, peeling skin. If you must tan, fake it.

A study was published in the papers this week showing that those office workers who sit by a window age themselves by 10 years. Obviously this headline is extreme but it serves to demonstrate that glass does not protect you from sun damage. Where there is sunlight, there can be sundamage.

My advice? Don't change your usual routine, just wear sunscreen. There is no need to become a hermit in summer or never wear a bikini, just apply a high factor sun protector. I have recently discovered Ultrasun and love the fact you only need one application a day. Apply first thing in the morning and then you can forget about it. For the face, I prefer a high factor, usually SPF 50 and Alpha-H Essential Daily moisturiser is great for this as it has a matte finish and doesn't feel greasy once applied. Institut Esthederm also has a great range of sun products, although they are on the pricey side.

Remember that No.1 hit song from the 1990s - 'Everybody's Free (to wear sunscreen)' by Baz Luhrmann?
The guy had a point.

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