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How to pick the best SPF for protection against ageing and cancer


Dr Natalia Spierings has a few recommendations when it comes to picking sun cream lotion.

“I suggest a SPF 50,” Dr Spierings began, explaining that people, in general, do not put on enough sunscreen as it is.

“What is more important than SPF level is that enough volume is applied,” she stressed.

“So 2.5 ml for the entire face/neck/ears is the usual standard, which is a lot.”

While Dr Spierings prefers mineral sunblocks made of zinc oxide or titanium oxide, they can be “a bit chalky and leave a white caste”.

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Aside from them not being pleasing aesthetically, these sorts of sunblocks “don’t photodegrade in the sun like chemical sunscreens”.

Dr Spierings noted, however, that “chemical sunscreens are perfectly adequate, but do need to be reapplied every two to three hours with constant sun exposure”.

Mineral sunscreens, on the other hand, “only need to be reapplied after swimming, towelling off or rubbing it off”.

When looking at SPF protection on sunscreen, Dr Spierings said: “SFP refers to the level of UVB protection. UVB [rays] are thought of as the ‘burning’ rays.

“UVA rays from the sun are the ones that cause the DNA damage and you can judge how good a sunscreen is at doing that by looking at the UVA star rating.”

Dr Spierings elaborated: “The rating goes from one to five, with five being the most effective.”

What about moisturisers or foundations that contain SPF?

These are not effective forms of sun protection, said Dr Spierings, as “you almost certainly won’t be applying enough to reach the stated SPF”.

Dr Spierings added: “Ideally you would apply a quarter to half a teaspoon of sunscreen to your face first, then moisturiser if required and then makeup etc if you wish.

“Don’t rely on moisturiser or foundation to provide adequate sun protection.”

For those who suffer from eczema or psoriasis, Dr Spierings said mineral sunscreens are “generally considered less irritating than chemical [sunscreens]”.

While sunscreen may seem like the most important factor in protecting your skin from the sun, it is not.

“The most important thing to do to protect your skin from the sun is to physically block your skin from sun exposure with clothing, hats, etc.”

Dr Natalia Spierings is the author of Skintelligent: What You Really Need To Know To Get Great Skin.

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