The sunscreen post!

Dr Nadine Stewart speaks to us about sunscreen…

With the holidays just around the corner, let’s talk about sunscreen.

Why sunscreen?

We all know spending time in the sun increases our risk for skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and melanoma. But did you know that sun exposure directly contributes to photoaging of your skin? In fact, when you dive into the world of anti-aging medicine your doctor will advise that your first purchase should be a good sunscreen.

Now naturally, the next question is – which sunscreen?

It can be quite daunting walking into the store and trying to choose the correct sunscreen for your skin. To make matters worse, once you have chosen the brand you now need decide on SPF 15 or 50. Lately you would have noticed that sunscreens no longer just protect against UVA and UVB rays but also have added protection against visible light and infrared radiation. Understanding what this means is crucial to ensure that you buy the correct product.

UVB rays are mainly responsible for inflammation and accumulation of the mutations in your skin which results in melanoma and nonmelanoma cancers. UVA rays are known as the aging ray but also cause oxidative stress which increases your risk for development of skin cancers. Visible light is largely responsible for induction of pigmentation problems. Infrared rays cause loss of collagen and elastin which causes premature aging of the skin.

SPF (sun protection factor) refers to protection from harmful UVB rays. It basically measures how long you can be in the sun before the skin reddens with the sunscreen on vs. without any sunscreen. So, if your skin reddens within 5 minutes of sun exposure without sunscreen and you apply an SPF 30 you should theoretically be protected for 2 hours and 20 minutes. Unfortunately, due to sun intensity variation during the day this is not an exact amount but rather an estimation.

To summarize, your sunscreen should cover you against UVA, UVB, infrared and visible light rays if you want the anti-aging and anti-pigmentary on top of the protection against skin cancers. SPF 50 would be recommended for most skins.

When sunscreen?

This one is quite simple. ALWAYS!!!! You should be applying your sunscreen daily and if you have more than 2 hours direct sun exposure, you should reapply. It is a good idea to get your kids into the routine of daily sunscreen application as research shows that one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence can more than double your risk of melanoma later in life. If your child does not like the daily fuss of rubbing in sunscreen there are many spray and new brush on options (available at Elan Healthstyle) available that are suitable for face and body application.

Last thing to remember is that applying sunscreen will not protect you completely. It is still advisable to avoid sun exposure between 10:00-15:00 by remaining in the shade and wearing protective clothing and a wide brim hat.

Pop in to bulk up on your summer protection!


Dr Nadine Stewart


Allison Blair

All stories by: Allison Blair