We usually think about applying sun protection during the summer months or on holiday to protect us from sunburn. However, the UV rays emitted from the sun can be damaging to skin over time – even on overcast days. We explain the harmful impact the sun can have on your skin, and how you can prevent any damaging effects of the sun by incorporating SPF products into your daily skincare regime.
How does the sun damage skin?
There are two types of UV rays emitted by the sun: UVA and UVB rays. The latter is what causes sunburn when we spend too much time basking by the pool. The former can speed up the development of signs of ageing, such as wrinkles and fine lines, as UVA rays damage the skin’s elastic fibres and collagen – the protein that maintains firmness in the skin. UVA rays penetrate cloudy skies, so you could be damaging your skin without you even realising it!
UV radiation causes the production of free radicals, which can also speed up signs of ageing. Free radicals are molecules that exist in the air, from UV rays and pollution, that are missing an electron. These free radicals will then look to borrow electrons from somewhere else – such as your skin – and in doing so, will damage collagen and encourage hyperpigmentation. A lack of collagen slows down the rate of skin cell renewal, resulting in a build-up of dead skin cells that causes your complexion to look dull.
What is SPF?
The SPF number refers to the amount of time you would be able to spend in the sun without burning your skin, compared with when not using any sun protection. However, as UVA rays can harm the skin even on cloudy days, you should consider wearing products with sun protection daily.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that you should reapply SPF products approximately every two hours to ensure you are protected.
Free Radicals & Oxidation
Free radicals are a major source of damage within our skin and UV light is the origin of large numbers of free radicals. Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons. This uneven number allows them to easily react with other molecules and cause chain reactions in the skin. This process is called oxidation.
Oxidation is the process of molecules changing because of the introduction of oxygen. Examples of oxidation are metal rusting or a cut apple slowly turning brown when exposed to air. Powerful ingredients known as antioxidants help to mop up these free radicals and protect the skin from oxidative stress. Some examples of antioxidants include vitamins A, C, & E, as well as plant-derived ingredients like ginseng and mulberry extract. Here at No7 we use a combination of vitamin C, ginseng, and mulberry, which partly comprise No7’s Double Defence technology.
Inorganic vs Organic Filters
Inorganic filters work by reflecting and scattering UV light, whereas Organic filters work by filtering or absorbing UV light. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the only two ingredients used in Inorganic filters. These ingredients tend to be slightly heavier, meaning the formulas that contain them often feel thicker. On the other hand Organic filters can contain a host of ingredients, but can be used at lower concentrations, meaning products that contain Organic filters often feel lighter on the skin.
But which type is better? Neither Inorganic or Organic are ‘better’ and it is really about personal preference. Our No7 products use Organic filters for a more lightweight feel on the skin. Because of this lightweight formula one of the benefits of Organic filters is that it is less likely to leave a white-grey cast on the skin. However, Inorganic filters often include tints to counteract this.
How to protect your skin from sun damage
No7 has a range of skincare products offering sun protection that will help shield your skin from potential damage.
No7’s Protect & Perfect Intense ADVANCED Day Cream is formulated with our unique anti-wrinkle peptide technology, as well as SPF15 to defend and protect against harmful UV rays and environmental stressors. Alternatively, try Lift & Luminate TRIPLE ACTION Day Cream with our anti-wrinkle technology and SPF 30. It also contains hyaluronic acid and hibiscus for visibly firmer looking skin. It also has vitamin C, an antioxidant.