What You Need to Know About Sunscreen

Green People Sun Cream

While it’s been a sorry state of affairs this year, the British summer is still a force to be reckoned with. Sun damage is real!

Okay, enough of the scare tactics, I promise. I’m still learning about my skin, and its likes and dislikes, but one thing I am aware of is its love for the sun, the heat, and the vitamin d those rays provide. The worrying side of this is that while my skin rarely burns, it can still be so easily sun damaged, and deserves care and attention every day (even if it’s cloudy!) in the form of sun protection.

Recently, I’ve been trying out Green People’s SPF 15 Sun Lotion*, and I have to say it’s been a sigh of relief. I’m not sure what it is, but I’ve always been so conscious of needing SPF and never quite finding a lotion that works for me. With this, I’ve enjoyed the non-greasy, moisturising lotion on my skin, and have had no blocked pores (something I really hate and have experienced so many times with regular sunscreens), as well as slow even tanning.

However, in my quest to give a well-researched post all about sun protection, I had to do a little digging, and what I’ve found may actually surprise you. Let me know in the comments if you didn’t know any of the following…

SPF is only for UVB

A little worrying, isn’t it? SPF (sun protection factor) is a figure that is associated with how well sunscreen blocks UVB (ultra violet b) rays, and UVB alone. UVB rays penetrate the upper layers of the skin only, and are what causes sunburn and redness.

UVB rays used to be considered the most harmful of the sun’s rays, which may be why we so readily want to know the SPF of the sunscreens we choose. However, UVA ray protection is also definitely needed.

UVA has its own rating

Following on from the SPF-shocker, UVA protection does in fact have its own rating system too, but this is where things get complicated.

UVA rays are just as dangerous, if not more so than UVB, because they penetrate deep into your skin. They are the cause of skin ageing, and wrinkles, while UVA and UVB together can cause eye damage and skin cancer.

For a long time, I believed UVA protection had a star rating system from 0-5. This is actually a commercialised ranking system created by Boots. Instead, sun lotions with a SPF related to UVA that is at least one third of UVB SPF earn a UVA badge from the EU, showing that it is up to standard. Did you follow? Basically, if your sun protection is SPF 30, and has a UVA badge, it provides at least SPF 10 for UVA rays.

Green People’s lotion does indeed have one of these badges. However, for a sun lotion with SPF 15, an SPF as low as 5 for UVA rays does seem a little low for my liking. When speaking to Green People, they told me their SPF 15 lotion filtered 78.2% UVA rays under testing, giving them the equivalent of a 3-star ranking under the Boots UVA 0-5 ranking. That makes me feel a lot better, although I would plump for their SPF 30 Lotion next time round, as that blocked 81.6% UVA rays under testing.

SPF is not logical, at all

SPF 50 protects you far more than SPF 30, right? Wrong.

It’s a complicated one, and in all honesty, after doing my research I would still go for SPF 30 or higher, but SPF 15 blocks 93% UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97%, and SPF 50 blocks 98%. The ranking takes into account safety margins, and also now we know about UVA, a higher UVB SPF gives a higher UVA SPF too (so long as it is EU certified).

Is your lotion photostable?

Nope, I’d not heard of this either until looking into this. There are a few further things you should check for in your sun lotion before buying it:

  • Is it photostable?
  • How much do I need to apply?
  • How often do I need to reapply?

There are so many different ways to apply sun lotion now, but you may not be applying as much as you need, it may not be photostable (meaning it will break down in the sun), and you will almost certainly need to reapply it throughout the day.

For British weather, I don’t worry too much about reapplying suncream unless I’m sat outside for more than 30 minutes at a time. My Green People sun lotion has been doing a good job so far, although I’m also cautious to wear a hat, sunglasses (UVA & UVB protected), and clothing to protect my skin too.

If you’re going on holiday, it really is a whole different story, with the sweat, sea, and changing of clothes. I’d recommend reading this information factsheet by the British Association of Dermatologists, which is where I found a good proportion of the information for this post. Be safe, people!


Notify of
Inline feedbacks
View all comments