We’re all used to slathering on the sun protection when on holiday, but don’t forget to protect your hair and skin on a cloudy UK day too.
The Stress Exchange hair and skincare experts offer the latest practical advice on staying sun-safe… every day of the year.
UVA and UVB: What’s the difference?
The sun produces two types of UV (ultra violet) rays which reach the earth, UVA and UVB, both of which are harmful in their own way to our skin and hair.
Let’s look at each of them:
UVA rays make up 95% of UV radiation and are present every day in equal intensity – whether it’s cloudy or clear, summer or winter.
And don’t think that because you’re inside most of the week that you escape them – they pass through glass and car windscreens.
UVA radiation penetrates deep into the skin’s layers causing ageing, wrinkles, age spots and freckles, as well as skin cancer.
While UVB rays only make up 5% of the sun’s radiation they are the main cause of both a tan and sunburn, as well as playing a large role in the development of skin cancer.
The strength of UVB rays varies according to season and weather conditions – they are stronger in the summer and at high altitudes – but dermatologists advise using protection throughout the year, especially as due to the thinning ozone layer more UVB rays now penetrate the atmosphere and increase the risks.
Not such a healthy tan
Although a tan looks superficially healthy in reality it’s a sign that the skin has been harmed by UV radiation and is trying to defend itself against further damage.
More than 100,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK with extensive sun exposure is thought to be responsible for the vast majority of cases. “Sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer. Sunburn doesn’t just happen on holiday – you can burn in the UK, even when it’s cloudy”, cautions the NHS.
Protecting yourself against UVA and UVB
Choose sun care products that shield against both UVA and UVB rays advises The Stress Exchange Beauty Manager Kim.
Here’s what I look for on the label:
UVB protection: “This is the SPF (sun protection factor) most of us are familiar with, but did you know it’s primarily a measure of the amount UVB protection? An SPF of 15 or more is recommended for daily use in the UK throughout the year.”
UVA protection: “SPF only gives protection against UVB, yet UVA rays are the main culprit for ageing skin. Look for the star rating on the UK sunscreen packaging, with 5 stars offering the best defence against harmful UVA.”
So rather than just looking at a sunscreen’s SPF when buying, choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen which protects skin and hair from all UV light suggests Kim.”
Environ RAD broad spectrum sunscreen
Kim recommends Environ RAD SPF 15 cream to her clients as it combines physical and chemical sunscreens to give broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. “With a light creamy texture it’s easily applied and ideal for use under makeup.”
She adds, “Suitable for all skin types including sensitive ones, Environ RAD is even gentle enough for babies older than six months.”
Sunscreen loses its effectiveness
Did you know sunscreen ingredients can break down in the sun and excessive heat and become less effective? Keep your products out of direct sunlight, don’t leave them in a sweltering car or lying out on the beach.
And always throw opened SPF away after a year. Even unopened bottles can expire after three years leaving you at a higher risk of sunburn and skin damage, so check the expiration date and replace regularly says Kim.
Summer-proof your hair
Sun can also be a damaging time for your hair and scalp, just like your skin, they can burn if not protected.
Sun causes hair colour to fade and discolour. It also makes it dry and brittle as UV rays can destroy protein bonds in the hair strands, weakening the hair structure and leading to moisture loss and dehydration.
The Stress Exchange stylist Araceli recommends spritzing your hair with a UV protector if you’re planning on being outside, whether poolside or an alfresco lunch.
“Aveda’s Protective Hair Veil is lightweight, invisible and suits all hair types. Broad spectrum UVA/UVB filters from wintergreen and cinnamon bark oils help protect hair from sun exposure and minimise damage and dryness. It’s cruelty-free and smells gorgeous too!
“And don’t forget, scarves are this season’s big fashion news which is perfect for protecting your hair and looking cool in the heat. For more ideas and inspiration on SS19 hair trends read our blog here” says Araceli.
Particularly if your hair is thinning apply your usual facial sunscreen to your parting line and exposed scalp to avoid sunburn, flaking and eventually the cell changes that can lead to skin cancer.
Even the best sunscreen won’t protect you fully from the sun’s powerful rays so:
- Seek out shade between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest.
- Long-sleeved clothing in a tightly-woven fabric provides a physical barrier.
- Invest in good quality sunglasses to protect your eyes.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat.
- Be extra careful around surfaces that reflect the sun’s rays, like snow, sand, water and concrete.
- Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours and after swimming (even for water-resistant products).
- The British Association of Dermatologists advise against using sunbeds or sunlamps.
To book a hair or beauty appointment or to ask for advice on the best sunscreen for your skin or hair call…
020 7357 7006