Here comes the sun


Hi everyone, Gayle here. I love April. The winter blues are being sent packing and already we've been treated to some summer warmth. Parks, patios and picnics are all in sight and if you're like me, you're ready for all of it!

But as the days grow longer, the sun grows stronger. No matter who you are or how tough you think your skin is, nobody is invincible when it comes to the sun's radiation.

Let's call it what it is — RADIATION!

The sun's radiation causes changes in our cells at the DNA level. Health Canada recently passed a law prohibiting people under 18 from using tanning salons, and I think that's a big warning to all of us.

So how do we protect ourselves?

Many people believe that the higher the number on their sunscreen the stronger it is. After decades of being told that SPF 30 is a total sunblock, some product manufacturers began to put higher SPF numbers on their sunscreens in an attempt to gain market share.

The fact is, though, that SPF 30 is still a total block. Numbers over 30 are usually 45, 60, or 90, meaning that you need to reapply the product every 45, 60 or 90 minutes respectively for it to have maximum effectiveness. If you read the instructions on the SPF 30 products, however, you will find that you also need to reapply them every 45 to 90 minutes for maximum effectiveness. These higher numbers on the new products are generally only for marketing purposes, making it hard to know who to trust, especially with something as valuable as your skin.

Well fear not, we're here to shed some light (gently, with SPF) on the truth about the sun and your skin!

  1. Why do I need extra sunscreen when my moisturizer has it?

    Generally speaking, facial moisturizers have an SPF of 4 to 6. This is not nearly enough, especially in the summer.

  2. I use SPF 15 because I want to get a bit of a tan. Is that ok?

    SPF 15 will only block about 90 per cent of the sun's damaging rays, so you need to be sure to follow to the manufacturer's directions around how often to apply. For your face, usually you'll put on an amount equal to the size of a mature garden pea, another thing I'm excited for this spring!

  3. I stocked up a few years ago so can I just use it until it's gone?

    Sunscreens definitely have an expiry date! After that date the product starts to degrade and lose all of its effectiveness within a short time. It's not a risk worth taking!

  4. If I put on SPF 60, am I good for the rest of the day?

    A higher SPF number doesn't mean you are protected all day with one application. All it means is that you can go a little bit longer between applications. As long as you're in the sun, you'll need to be re‑applying, so read the directions so you know when to do so.

  5. I don't need sunscreen because it's cloudy, right?

    I hate this myth! With the ever‑vanishing ozone layer, the sun's rays are getting stronger, even on cloudy days. Scientific studies have shown evidence to support this, so please don't bother testing it out for yourself!

  6. I have darker coloring so I don't need sunscreen like fairer people, do I?

    While darker skinned people don't have as high rates of skin cancer, they are still prone to sun damage, and they still get brown spots, dark raised moles and wrinkles. Sunscreen is the cheapest anti‑wrinkle cream you'll ever buy.

  7. Sunscreen makes my skin break out. What can I do?

    In all the years I have been a skincare therapist, problems with breakout from sunscreen were almost always traced back to using the wrong product. For example, using body sunscreen on the face, using all‑purpose drugstore sunscreen on the face instead of a facial sunscreen suited to your specific skin type and condition. Some people can use cheaper drugstore sunscreens without any problems, but if you are oily and prone to breakouts, you are very likely sensitive as well. I am one of those people, so I can speak from personal experience. The best thing you can do for yourself is to see a professional skin care therapist for an accurate assessment of your skin, and appropriate product recommendations.

So while you're loving the weather this summer, don't forget to give your skin some love, too. You'll be glad you did!