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Fashion editor Miranda Stoner takes an in-depth look at sun protection and its importance...

Miranda Stoner
11th March 2019

Why sunscreen is important.

Catching a tan may make you feel ready to get up and glow, but the sad truth is that protecting yourself from the sun is essential. Not only in superficial terms of prolonging the youthful look of your skin, but also in the prevention of serious diseases such as skin cancer. Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK and the leading causes are ultraviolet light from the sun or the rays from sun beds. Whilst this is often prevented at an early, when it isn’t treated soon enough it can spread to other organs and be fatal. Don’t be alarmed though, one of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent skin cancer and moles is through using a sun protection product.


Deciphering the labels.

There are so many products out containing SPF, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that these are fully protective for your skin. Studies have shown that it is important for our skin health to have both UVA and UVB protection. Sun care products universally contain UVB as this protects the top layers of the skin against reddening and sunburn. UVA on the other hand is not present in all products, even though it more likely to affect the average UK dweller. UVA is present through all daylight hours, all year round and it prevails through clouds and glass, so even if you’re sat at a desk inside facing a window it could be having an effect on your skin! What’s more it effects the skin on a deeper level and is thought to play a major role in skin ageing and wrinkling. So, just make sure the products you’re buying have you covered for both. For this reason, Dr Anjali Mahto, author of The Skincare Bible emphasises the need for us to find a product that protects from both. She also recommends that we add sunscreen into our daily routine. Experience says that it is most easily layered underneath your moisturiser and foundation for a clear conscious as well as complexion. She also suggests we try to cover up as much as possible.


Protecting the planet.

Another issue when buying sun care products is the environment. The sun screen we wear often ends up in the oceans through the water ways or as a result of us jumping straight in the sea lathered head to toe in an oily sheen. Ingredients found in chemical sunscreens such as oxybenzone (found in 3,500 sunscreens worldwide), octinoxate and octocrylene might be contributing to coral bleaching, as well as posing a threat to other marine wildlife, and damaging the coral DNA which stops it from reproducing and ultimately leads to its death. Craig Downs, Ph.D., a forensic ecotoxicologist in Virginia adds to this “Once those reefs die, we’ve found they’re not coming back,” notes Downs. “They’re just crumbling to dust.” Other problematic ingredients are Zinc oxide and Titanium Dioxide. When these are uncoated and nano-size, they can enter the cells of marine creatures after being ingested, which can destroy the cells and damage the marine environment. If you pick a product with these in, make sure they are non-nano ingredients. Experts also suggest that creams are better than sprays, as sprays are easily caught by the sand and transported straight to the sea.


In short: there’s every reason to start/keep integrating sun screen into your daily beauty routine, what’s important is that you are conscious of the choices you make. Make sure you are aware of the ingredients you are putting on your skin and always tan responsibly.

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