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All of your questions about sunscreen answered

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Now you’re wondering if sunscreen should expire after you’ve found an old SPF. It’s not uncommon to be there after a long winter, especially when the sun comes out. While we all know that sun protection is important during the warmer months of the year, it can be difficult to keep track of the best practices for actually using it. We are here to help.

We have all the answers to your top SPF questions. From the differences between mineral and chemical sun creams to how much to apply to the effects on the skin to whether or not sunscreen is necessary.

Sun protection should be treated like any other component of your skincare regimen. Do your research the same way as you would for an eye cream and then use it regularly as part of your daily skincare routine.

There are so many sunscreen products available, as well as hybrids like face moisturizer with SPF. It can be hard to know what is best for your skin. We have answered all your questions and compiled a list of the top sun-protection products. We wish you a happy and healthy year!


1. Does sunscreen expire?

Anyone who found a sunscreen bottle last summer or from the past and wants to use it is in for a rude awakening. Sun creams have a shelf life of 6-12 months, so it is unlikely that your last summer’s sunscreen will be protecting you as well.

You should also know that SPF can be dissolved faster if your bottles are exposed to direct sunlight or heated temperatures.

2. What does SPF stand for?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. This number indicates how often you should reapply to prevent sunburns. If your skin is not protected and it takes 20 minutes to turn red in the sun’s midday heat, applying SPF30 will make it take 30 times longer.

UVA: Consider A for ageing. These pesky UV rays can penetrate skin deep through glass and cloud all year.

UVB: UVB is short for ultraviolet rays. The intensity of UVB rays will vary depending on the weather. You are most at risk in the UK in spring and summer when the sun is high in the sky.

Broad spectrum: Sun lotions that protect skin from UVA and UVB radiations.

3. Do I need SPF in cloudy countries?

Anyone who has ever been caught by a sunny day in these parts (and quickly had to buy the best aftersun lotion) will confirm that you must use sunscreen in the UK. Dr Anita Sturnham, a skin specialist and dermatologist says that while we are more likely to be sunburnt in warmer climates, UVA damage is still possible in the UK all year.

4. Is makeup with SPF as good as sunscreen?

“Although your foundation may promise SPF, it is likely that they are applied in smaller amounts and do not provide the same protection as ‘pure sunscreens.” Abi Cleeve, a skincare expert and Ultrasun UK MD says.

5. How to apply sunscreen

Are you going out in the sun? To avoid sunburn, it’s important that you plan ahead. Apply your sun cream before you leave the house or sit down in the park.

Abi Cleeve says, “Do it first thing. Do it indoors. Apply lots.” “Any application in direct sun increases evaporation, and as much as 60% of protection may be lost.”

6. Can I use acids?

As long as you take care, this shouldn’t pose a problem. Skin can be more susceptible to sun damage if it contains chemically exfoliating (AHAs or BHAs) or cells that are rapidly turning over, like retinol. Use SPF daily and limit the use of stronger ingredients to nighttime.

7. Does sunscreen block vitamin D?

A 2019 study by The British Journal of Dermatology found that “using broad-spectrum sunscreens with high UVA coverage daily will not affect vitamin D status in healthy individuals.”

The dangers of sun exposure are far greater than the benefits so make sure to use sunscreen. If it has a broad spectrum, sunscreen will prevent tanning.

8. What’s the difference between chemical and mineral sunscreen?

Chemical sunscreens, as the name implies, absorb ultraviolet rays from your skin. The sun’s rays are reflected off the skin by mineral (or physical) lotions.

It really depends on your personal preference which one you choose. Chemical formulations have a lighter texture and are more popular for daily use. Physical AKA mineral sunscreen may be the best for sensitive skin because chemicals can cause irritation. Try switching to mineral if you have ever felt your eyes sting after applying sunscreen.

9. Does menopause cause pigmentation?

When we reach menopause, our melanin cells produce too much pigment, which can lead to an increase in sun spots or ‘age’ spots.

Vitamin C can help to fade existing marks while strong SPFs prevent new ones from forming.

10. Is after-sun better than body lotion?

This depends on which body lotion is being used. Both types of products are intended to moisturize the skin. However, good after-sun lotions contain cooling, anti-inflammatory and water-binding ingredients that deeply moisturize dry skin. Candice Gardner, Education Manager at Dermalogica, says that after-sun has the greatest benefit. Its high water content cools and hydrates.

11. Does sunburn turn into a tan?

Trauma tanners, listen up! “A tan that is too rapid due to inadequate protection will only cause the skin’s to burn and shed, leaving it tanless for days,” Abi Cleeve says. You can safely deepen your tan with a sunscreen that has a special formula.

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