SPF and I weren't always best friends, it actually took me a few terrible sun burns + years of education to truly value the importance of having SPF in my life. Now, we're inseparable.
I think most know that the sun is not good for you, but I don't think many people actually understand why. So first, let's cover what the sun actually does to your skin.
UV rays from the sun are one of the top triggers of free radicals. When UV radiation hits the skin, it reacts with oxygen in the air and creates this free radical chain reaction. Free radicals = unpaired electrons that attack anything/everything around it. They attack your skin's collagen, elastin, lipids, mitocondria of the cells, etc. Free radicals are BAD (if you didn't pick up on that).
There are two main types of UV rays - UVA and UVB rays.
- UVB = burning. These rays are responsible for changing the colouring of our skin. When we get a tan it is the skins natural response to protect us from the sun. These are mostly present when we're in direct sunlight.
- UVA = aging. These rays are responsible for damaging and breaking down the skin. UVA rays also cause inflammation. Inflammation is directly correlated to hyperpigmentation, rosacea, acne and other skin concerns. They are present AT ALL TIMES. Through a window, through the clouds, through your t-shirt.
Based on that alone, I wear SPF 50 on a daily basis - rain or shine! SPF is literally the easiest way to protect your skin and prevent wrinkles, sagging skin, discolouration, redness, sensitivities.
Now, speaking 'levels' of SPF. I don't wear anything under SPF 50 on my face, and SPF 30 on my body. I advise the same for you. And no, applying a moisturizer with SPF 15 and then applying make-up with SPF 15 does not give you a total of SPF 30.
SPF 30 is going to give you 97% coverage against UVA and UVB rays, and SPF 50 is going to give you 98% coverage against UVA and UVB rays. Both still need to be re-applied on a 2 hour basis, especially if you are outdoors.
Lastly, talking physical/mineral vs. chemical SPF. I personally only wear physical/mineral SPF on my face. On my body, I wear both physical & chemical.
Chemical filters absorb the UV radiation into the skin. Then, a chemical reaction takes place where it converts the UV rays into heat, which is then released into the skin. This definitely causes inflammation in the skin, which again we know triggers negative skin side effects. You also need to wait 15-20 mins before sun exposure with chemical SPF.
Physical/mineral filters use Titanium Dioxide & Zinc, and physically blocks the suns damaging rays. Zinc has cooling properties, keeps the skin calm, plus it's also very anti-inflammatory (yay) and anti-microbial. Physical/mineral SPF provides immediate sun protection, so you can apply and then go on with your day!
My personal go-to brand for physical SPF is Colorescience. The products are free from the traditional junk found in cosmetics/SPF and are amazing! I'm obsessed with their new Glow Face Shield!
Our skin is such a large organ and protects us. If it is damaged or weakened it cannot do it's job, so it's our job to protect it! If that doesn't resonate with you, then think of it as your 'fountain of youth'. UV rays are one of the main causes of aging. Want to have plump, glowing, even skin? Then wear SPF.
So with all of that, I hope you now understand the importance of SPF (30+ with mineral filters worn daily if I'm being specific).