How To Choose The Best Sunscreen

Please note, this blog was posted in 2012. We no longer offer Skinceuticals at Face Clinic London, but do sell ZO Skin Health and have a range of different suncreens from them that we can offer. Please use this post as a guide.

Summer’s here, so if you’re about to jet off abroad or planning a stay-cation during the school-holidays, or even if you’re intending to do nothing more than a spot of weeding or playing the odd game of 5-a-sides – applying sunscreen is an absolute must!

Dermatologists agree that protecting your skin from the sun’s rays is essential for preventing harmful skin changes which have been linked to sun exposure. The sun emits two main types of skin damaging ultraviolet rays, UVA and UVB. These rays have been shown in numerous scientific studies to not only burn skin, but promote the development of brown spots, broken capillaries, uneven skin tone and pigmentation.

Prolonged sun UV exposure has been shown to prematurely age skin, by damaging its ability to repair itself, and decreasing collagen and elastin formation leading to thickened, sagging skin which is prone to early fine lines and wrinkles. More worryingly, there is a proven link between sun exposure and skin cancer (which is also known as malignant melanoma).

The best and most practical way of protecting your skin is by regular daily use of a sunscreen, often called sun-block. Yet studies have shown that although two thirds of Britons use sunscreen when away on holiday abroad, only a third do so at home. Experts say that this is because they wrongly believe the UK sun is too weak to do them any harm – scientists stress that whilst UV rays here might not be as strong as in some other foreign countries, our sun is still strong enough to damage and age the skin and cause skin cancer.

In 2010 (the most up-to-date statistics available), nearly 3000 people in the UK alone died from skin cancer. Around 12,000 people annually are diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the most deadly form skin cancer, making it the fastest growing cancer in the country.

During the summer, while the sun is at its closest to the Earth and therefore at its strongest, it’s vital that you wear sunscreen whenever you go outside, regardless of whether you’re abroad or just here are home. Those most at risk are people with fair skin, and those who have prolonged UV exposure such gardeners and people who work outside, and those who take part in sports because they spend many hours in the sun without even realising it. In fact, sunscreen should be worn 365 days a year because UVA rays can penetrate through snow and glass windows even when it’s cloudy or raining.

But remember, you must make sure you use a good quality product that will give you the best protection. With everyone feeling the pinch in these difficult economic times, it’s tempting to save money wherever you can and just go for a cheap sunscreen. I asked Face Clinic London’s Dr Mahmood which qualities he thinks people should look for when selecting a sunscreen.

He listed four main factors. “Firstly, to be sure you’re getting the right protection, it’s vital that you choose both a good quality sunscreen and one with a high sun protection factor, so a minimum SPF 30 will provide good protection”. The sun protection factor (SPF) is a laboratory measure for the effectiveness of sunscreen – the higher the SPF, the more protection a sunscreen offers against UVB rays.

Secondly he said, “To get the best protection against skin cancer and to prevent premature ageing and pigmentation, it is important to select a broad spectrum sunscreen – one that protects you against both types of harmful sun rays, UVA and UVB”. Most low quality sunscreens do not protect the skin from UVA rays, which represent 95 per cent of the sun’s rays that reach our skin (those which aren’t blocked by clouds or windows) and they are a major cause of skin ageing.

His third point he said was that, “It’s important to take into account the durability of the sunscreen and select a product that protects the skin for a long time after one application. High quality sunscreens are developed to require re-applying less frequently because they are able to better withstand contact with water, heat and sweat.”

And Dr Mahmood’s fourth reason to choose a high quality product is because “many cheaper quality products contain thick, oily greasy chemicals that can clog the pores and lead to breakouts and acne and are also not suitable for sensitive skin”.

There are a number of good sunscreens on the market so I asked Face Clinic London’s Dr Mahmood which brand he would recommend. “In my opinion, Skinceuticals’ sunscreens have all the markers of high quality. In fact, it’s the brand that I use myself”.

Skinceuticals are world renowned for providing high quality skincare which has been backed by science – they are one of only a few cosmetic companies who use high quality pharmaceutical grade ingredients and are unique in investing heavily in medical and cosmetic research to put their products through peer reviewed clinical trials so you can be sure of using a product that actually works.

Skinceuticals has a range of four sunscreens which contain natural ingredients and provide true broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection (most sunscreens only filter out the UVB), with long lasting effects after one application so you can be confident of getting the best protection from sun related premature ageing and skin cancer. Skinceuticals sunscreens are light-weight and don’t feel sticky or oily when applied. They are also all-encapsulated, meaning increased protection using fewer sunscreen ingredients – this reduces the chances of irritation making the range suitable for all skin types even sensitive and acne prone skin. Skinceuticals range of four Sunscreens are listed below:

Adanced Sun Defense SPF 30

Adanced Sun Defense SPF 30

Advanced Sun Defense SPF30 provides a moderate to high level Sun Protection Factor of 30 with broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection and is designed not to clog pores. It is recommended for daily use for all skin types including sensitive skin and is applied at the last step in your skincare routine before make up.

Ultra Facial Defense SPF50

Ultra Facial Defense SPF50

Ultra facial Defense SPF50  is an ultra light, fragrance-free sunscreen providing long-lasting hydration (up to 12 hours), suitable for all skin types and it won’t clog pores. Its top level Sun Protection Factor 50 helps prevent premature aging, excess pigmentation and age spots, whilst also protecting you against skin cancer.

Physical UV Defense SPF30

Physical UV Defense SPF30

Physical UV Defense SPF30 is a non chemical, physical sunscreen ideal for use on skin which is very sensitive, (and not able to tolerate traditional sunscreens), or for children’s skin. It has a Sun Protection Factor of 30 with broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection and has a transparent formulation which is oil and fragrance free. It is ideal for daily use and can be applied under make up.

Sheer Mineral UV Defense SPF 50

Sheer Mineral UV Defense SPF 50

Sheer Mineral UV Defense SPF 50is a breakthrough formulation technology in mineral sunscreens: a transparent, mattifying, paraben-free SPF 50 providing the highest level of Sun protection factor. Employing all-mineral broad-spectrum filters, this impressive product provides high UVA and UVB protection in a lightweight, ultra-sheer texture for all skin types, even very sensitive. The protective effect of this sunscreen is enhanced by Artemia Salina, a plankton extract that increases the skin’s defences to heat and UV stress. The silky sheer fluid spreads evenly and dries quickly, leaving skin soothed, and is applied daily under make up.


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