Your guide to SPF and Sunscreens– Part 1

When it comes to SPF’s and sunscreens it seems a lot of us are confused. We don’t know what’s what and we don’t understand the different rating system and marketing chat that so many products seem to have. This blog has been split into two parts – because SPF is such a HUGE subject! In part 1 we are discussing why you should wear SPF in the first place and also what rating systems are correct. In part 2 we discuss the types of ingredients you should looking for and the different types of SPF and which one is best. Enjoy!


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Why should you wear an SPF in the first place?

Why do you need an SPF, and do you need to wear it every day? An SPF is an essential part of anyone’s routine and we should all be wearing one every single day, especially teens and those under 18.


90% of the damage that we do to our skin is done before the age of 18, that’s a lot of damage you can protect against by simply wearing an SPF 15 or higher every single day without fail.

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When a lot of us think of sunscreen we think, white, chalky and uncomfortable and greasy on the skin. This is no longer the case, your SPF can be in your makeup (see Jane Iredale blogs) in your skincare, foundation, BB cream, or applied as a whole separate layer (see Alpha Day Lotion spf15). I personally apply my SPF every single day as all three – I like to be on the safe side. I use PurePressed Powder which has a spf20 and Alpha Day Lotion which has an spf15 and I also have an spf30 in my Dermalogica Skin Perfect Primer. It’s as simple as that to keep my skin protected EVERY single day.




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Your skin is exposed to two main types of UV. UVA – the ageing ray which is around every single day, come rain, snow or shine and can also come from our computers, phone and TVs. And UVB – the burning ray which is the hot sun that you feel on your back when you are on holiday. The more damaging of the two? UVA 100%.

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It causes the ageing in your skin and because it’s around every single day, we are much more likely, especially in the UK (cause we don’t get that LOVELY hot sun), to be exposed to it without protection. Therefore, you don’t just need your SPF when it’s sunny, but also when it’s cloudy too. Also, if you think that you don’t need an SPF because you work in doors all day – wrong! Do you sit in front of a computer or check your phone or watch TV at least for some part of the day? If yes (and if no, then WOW) then you need an SPF on your skin to protect it from the UVA and the blue light.

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Top Tip – you can now get blue light filters for your phone, tablets, laptops and TVs if you do spend a lot of time in front of them – makes all the difference to pigmentation and sun damage. I see so many office workers who come to be with BAD pigmentation and then swear to me that they haven’t been in the sun. Nope they haven’t but they have been in front of their computer – just as bad!

Rating systems – which are true and false

When it comes to the rating systems every brand seems to have their own one! Often when I met clients for the first time I get them to come in with their current products and then we can assess what they are going to keep and what they are going to change. Often their SPF causes the biggest confusion! Their SPF may have a star rating of 3 however the SPF that I am giving them is an SPF 30, how does that relate to the star rating? It takes a chemist to figure it out! Because of all the different rates the best one to look for is simple – SPF (sun protection factor) of 15, 30 or 50. Anything above 50 – just a marketing ploy. In addition, it will take so many chemicals to get up to that level of SPF that it will be doing your skin more harm than good!

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Top Tip: Another good thing to look for is broad spectrum protection – this means that it protects against UVA and UVB. Basically it means it’s got physical and chemical sunscreens in there. If it doesn’t say it on the packing you can work it out from the ingredients – read part two to find out how!

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Below I’ve gone through the different SPF strengths and the percentage of UV they block out

SPF 2 – 50% of UV A and B rays blocked out

SPF 4 – 70% of UV A and B rays blocked out

SPF 8 – 87.5% of UV A and B rays blocked out

SPF 15 – 93% of UV A and B rays blocked out

SPF 30 – 97% of UV A and B rays blocked out

SPF 50 – 98% of UV A and B rays blocked out

Interesting statistics, I was shocked when I first read these. For years I had been telling clients that the SPF 50 was the only way forward and there was a clear difference between an SPF 30 and 50 however that difference was only 1%! I too had fallen under the marketing ploy of the big brands.

What is interesting is that when you add in antioxidants to your SPF product that adds another couple of percent as well (Environ RAD does this brilliantly) so an SPF 15 for example has 93% protection however add in your antioxidants and you’re up to 95% protection and the added skin benefits of antioxidants and less chemicals.

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This is the big point I want to get across, for all the extra chemicals it takes (more about this in part 2) to go from an SPF 15 to an SPF50 you are better off with a lower SPF that contains more antioxidants.


Wishing you happy and healthy skin from Ms. Glow X

Ms. Glow