A survey in 2015 by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society showed that there is a lot of confusion surrounding the labelling of sun creams. Many people are unaware just how much protection they are getting from their cream and think that the higher the number, the better it must be.
One of the most significant findings was that one in five people, out of 2000 UK adults, were completely unaware that the SPF rating of a sun cream did not offer complete protection from all sun damage. The view was that if a cream had an SPF rating, it provided full protection.
A tiny number of 8% of those surveyed knew that the SPF rating related only to the protection from UVB radiation, these are the rays that cause sun burn. That means that 92% of people had no idea that the SPF ratings give no guidance at all on whether there is any protection against damage caused by UVA rays.
If UVB rays burn, what do UVA rays do?
UVA rays cause the damage that we don't see so instantly, they can cause long term cell damage in the deeper layers of the skin and are one of the main causes of wrinkles and premature skin ageing. Think A for ageing.
The damage from UVA rays can be occurring even if you skin is not red or burned. Depending on your sun cream, you could be causing damage to your skin with out even knowing it.
The key to successful UVA and UVB protection is to regularly reapply a decent amount of cream, rather than choosing a very high SPF cream. An easy way to remember 'enough' is to think of a shot glass full, that is approximately how much an adult should apply in one go.
The charity Cancer Research suggest that around two tablespoons of cream is applied every two hours, be honest, how many people only reapply after swimming? The also recommend that you avoid direct sun exposure between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm, when the sun's rays are strongest.
Star ratings and what to look for
Information articles will often urge consumers to look at the star rating to establish the UVA protection of their sun cream, but not all companies use that system, Some prefer to use the one created by The European Cosmetics Association COLIPA, they have designed a symbol to indicate whether products offer any UVA protection. This indicates if a sun cream offers protection from UVA rays in line with the Recommendations of the European Commission.
This simple symbol of the letters UVA within a circle, is an easy way to see if your brand complies with the guidelines in the recommendations.
How high is high enough?
All Green People sun lotions offer broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection and are suitable for sensitive skin and those prone to prickly heat.
There can be a tendency for people who use very high factor sun creams of SPF50 and above to reapply less frequently and stay in the sun longer than when they use lower factor sun lotions. This can dramatically increase your risk of sun damage because in order to get good UVA defence, you must regularly top up your protection no matter what the SPF factor.
Effective sun lotions without the jargon
Green People offers a sun care range for all the family which uses an expert blend of earth minerals, the mountain flower Edelweiss and other effective, gentle filters to provide broad-spectrum protection for your skin against UVA and UVB rays.
These award-winning formulations are rich in a synergistic blend of natural antioxidants, skin vitamins and anti-inflammatory actives to help support the skin’s immune system, prevent premature ageing from UVA rays and protect against irritation.
Theresa Cutts. Nutritional Consultant. June 2017