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SPF: Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

Let’s talk SPF. Or should we say Sun Protective Factor, because that’s exactly what this little beauty stands for. Everyone is guilty of neglecting their skin when it comes to protecting it from the sun’s powerful rays- that’s why we’re here to talk about just why it’s SO important that SPF isn’t something you pop on if you remember- it needs to be a daily staple in your routine.

This month is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, which is the perfect time to discuss all things SPF. Considering the fact, Melanoma is now the 5th most common type of cancer in the UK, we need you all to get clued up on protecting your skin from those harmful rays.

Let’s break it down. The sun produces two types of rays that can damage skin cells, increase signs of ageing and cause skin cancer. UVB rays are known for causing sunburn and are the main culprits for causing skin cancer- the SPF level on your sunscreen indicates how well it protects against these rays. On the other hand, UVA rays are those that lead to tanning, sunburn, wrinkles and skin ageing. Hint: if your sunscreen says broad spectrum on it, it will protect you against both these types of rays.

What does your SPF number actually mean?

A suncream’s SPF number refers to the amount of time it would take UV radiation to burn untanned skin when using the product as instructed, compared to without any protection- so SPF 30 means it would protect for 30x longer than bare skin. To simplify things, according to Badger Balm:

  • SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays
  • SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays
  • SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays

The British Association of Dermatologists recommend using a minimum of SPF 30 to ensure maximum protection. Get yourself covered, honey!

Where and when should I apply my sunscreen?

Sun cream should be applied every day (yes, EVERY day), even underneath your makeup. You’ll be happy to know that there’s a whole variety of sunscreen options now, meaning you won’t be stuck with the typical chalky white marks from traditional creams. There are sooooo many formulas and consistencies, you’ll definitely find one suitable for your skin type- so no excuses for not wearing it.

Sunscreen should be applied to any exposed areas of skin, even during the winter months- it may not be hot, but that doesn’t stop sun rays doing their damage. It should also be reapplied every two hours for maximum protection. Skin Cancer Foundation states that using SPF 15 sunscreen can reduce your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by around 40% and lower your melanoma risk by 50%. If you're lucky enough to be on holiday, make sure you reapply after your swim- even if your sunscreen claims to be water resistant, it won't be fully water proof. 


 Is it really that important to wear sunscreen?

Long story short, YES. With cases of skin cancer on the rise, there has never been a more important time to invest in a proper SPF routine. Considering the fact that 86% of melanoma cases are preventable, it’s so important to do all you can to look after your skin.

You may be thinking, ‘my moisturiser has SPF in it- is that enough’? Well, it depends. Yes it will offer some level of protection, but it will be in a lower percentage and most likely applied more thinly than a regular sun cream. So you’re best off using a separate sunscreen.

A handy guide to just how much you should be applying from NUSU.

Ready to kickstart your SPF journey? Make sure to stay extra protected- its better to be safe than sorry- and speak to your GP if you have any concerns about areas of your skin. Remember, as soon as the sun rises, you're at risk- so slather up, and go get em!

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