We all know that we should use sunscreen, but sometimes it’s hard to see the point when the sun hasn’t put in an appearance for a week.  Do we really need to bother on a cloudy day, or in the middle of winter, or when we’re in the car? Well the short answer is: yes! The rays responsible for ageing, for example, can penetrate clouds, so even if you don’t get sunburnt, damage is still being done.

Use sunscreen daily to protect your skin

I was reminded of this recently when reading about research into the effectiveness of regular sunscreen use. The study, conducted over a ten year period among more than 1,500 people in Australia, found that those who used sunscreen daily had a substantial reduction in melanomas (the most deadly form of skin cancer) compared with those who used sunscreen as and when they wanted. So it seems that regular and consistent application is important to get the best possible protection.

This, coupled with findings from a separate study that showed that people who wore sunscreen every day (rather than just as they would normally) had 24% less skin ageing, makes regular use even more of a no-brainer.

Sunscreen is not just for holidays!

And if you still need further convincing that sunscreen isn’t just for the beach? The photo below shows Bill McElligott, 69, a truck driver from the USA. Having spent 28 years behind the wheel, the left side of his face looks roughly 20 years older than the right, thanks to being exposed to UVA rays through the truck window.

Why sunscreen is important – even on a rainy day

Image taken from Huffington Post 06/06/12 (Jacqueline Delange)and was orginally used from an article on The New England Journal of Medicine 19/04/2012 (Jennifer R.S. Gordon, M.D. Joaquin C. Brieva, M.D. – Northwestern University, Chicago, IL)

Five top tips to protect your skin from the sun damage:

  1. Know your UVA from your UVB. Making sure your chosen sun screen or skin care product will protect you from both kinds of harmful rays is really important. UVA is associated with skin ageing, and UVB is most responsible for sunburn and is strongly linked to skin cancer. In the UK, sunscreens and moisturisers are labeled with an SPF number: this stands for Sun Protection Factor, but it’s important to remember that this relates only to UVB rays, the ones that cause burning. It’s best to go for an SPF of at least 30, but a high SPF in itself does not mean you will be protected against UVA light, so check the small print: a “broad-spectrum” product will protect you against both kinds of rays
  2. Read the label! For instance, some products need to be applied half an hour before you are exposed to the sun, so slapping the lotion on as you run towards the beach will leave you vulnerable. And also: check the use by date. Most only have a shelf life of around two years tops, and after this point it’s best to bin them
  3. Don’t just apply to your face. This sounds obvious but it’s easy to forget other areas like the tops of your ears, the back of your neck, your forearms and so on. If you’re wearing a particularly daring neckline one day, remember to add some sunscreen! And don’t forget, clothing doesn’t completely block all of the sun’s harmful rays, so if you are wearing light, delicate fabrics it may be worth applying your sunscreen all over before you get dressed. Oh, and remember your sunglasses: your eyes need protecting too!
  4. Make it easy for yourself: keep bottles of your favourite sunblock in your handbag, glove-box, desk at work… anywhere you might need it. You don’t need to buy multiple bottles, just decant some into little travel containers
  5. And lastly: when the sun is shining (it can happen, even here in the UK!), seek out some shade and take a rest from the rays when you can.

We offer a number of excellent high SPF products at The Clinic, from expert skincare brands Heliocare, Obagi and iS Clinical. They offer full range protection and won’t leave your skin feeling sticky, greasy or spotty. Heliocare also has a great kids’ version if you have little ones to protect. We’re always happy to offer advice to help you find the best one for you. Just get in touch to find out more.

Sources and other useful links:

Cancer Council Australia: “World leading research confirms regular sunscreen use can prevent melanoma”

Science Daily: “Sunscreen reduces melanoma risk by 40 per cent in young people”

The Wall Street Journal: “Sunscreen Each Day Stops Wrinkles”

British Association of Dematologists: “Sunscreen fact sheet”

NHS: “Sunscreen and sun safety”

Huffington Post