SPF The Biggest Secret in Skincare

Have you ever tried those apps that show you what you will look like in 20 or 30 years time? Think wrinkles, pigmentation patches and skin laxity. I would bet you prefer what you see in the mirror today! So, what if I told you there was something you could do every day, that will slow down or prevent some of that age related change?

Let me tell you a secret…there is! SPF is the simplest, easiest and quickest anti-ageing tool we have available to us. Ok, it’s probably not a secret nowadays, if you have a tiktoking tween, but for the rest of us born in the dark ages, then here are the details you need to know. If you came to me for a skin consultation tomorrow, the first and most important thing I would tell you, would be that nothing that I can do, yes including injectables, will freeze your skin age as well as SPF. Sun exposure accounts for a whopping 80% of visible skin ageing!

Shockingly, as you can see in the pictures below, this is clearly highlighted in these identical twins.

Twins (natural age 61) with significant difference in sun exposure. Twin B (right) had approximately 10 hours per week greater sun exposure than twin A (left). [i]

Clearly we cannot forget how vital SPF is for the prevention of skin cancer. Staying safe in the sun, covering up, getting some shade at the hottest parts of the day and using a high grade SPF (30 plus and 4/5 star rated) can reduce our chances of developing some of the most serious types of skin cancer by up to 90%. [ii]

So, who should use it? Everyone! Even if your skin is darker tone? Yes! Even if you “never” burn? – yes! Everyone over the age of 6 months should use an SPF daily. Under 6 months of age, our skin is super sensitive, so advice from the skin cancer foundation says that physical barriers (clothes, hats and keeping out of the sun) are your best protection for this age group.

Ok, so you get how important it is, but where do you start when it comes to choosing a suitable SPF. I am afraid last years, sand caked, out of date bottle that’s rolling about in the bottom of your beach bag is not going to cut it. One of the most common phrases I hear in clinic is “My day cream/ foundation/ tinted moisturiser has SPF in it”. Whilst better than nothing at all, this is definitely not going to provide you with anywhere enough protection. I advise every patient I see  to get a separate SPF product and use it daily.

Primarily, you need a broad-spectrum SPF with a minimum of factor 30 to block both UVA and UVB rays as they cause different types of skin damage. A straightforward way to remember this is UVA= Ageing rays (this type can pass through glass and deeper into the skin) and UVB = Burning rays (don’t penetrate as deeply into the skin but still cause skin damage and cancers.)[iii]

There are two distinct types of SPF – chemical or mineral (physical) suncream. Both are generally considered to be safe and effective, but they work in different ways and therefore you need to consider how you use them. Mineral works largely by blocking, reflecting and scattering the rays. Some can leave a slight whitecast which may be visible on darker skin tones.  Chemical sunscreens absorb the rays, they can feel nicer and be “invisible” but can sometimes irritate sensitive skins. Consider the best sunscreen for the face by choosing one that feels great on your skin, ensuring you will wear it consistently.

How to apply


  • Cleanse and moisturise, then apply your SPF.
  • Watch out for under application! Studies have shown that as a nation, we are using nowhere near enough SPF when we apply it. Not only will that potentially not give us an even coverage but it also lowers the SPF value. So people inadequately applying an SPF50 may only get SPF25 protection! 
  • Top tip for reapplication – get an SPF palette/ powder to keep in your handbag and reapply throughout the day. The Skinbetter science palette and IS clinical powders are our current favourites for being handbag friendly.

How much to apply? – Follow the 3 finger rule – a decent strip of suncream along each of your longest three fingers will provide enough suncream for your face and neck.

When to apply – 20 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every 2 hours or immediately after swimming/ contact with water – watch out for the paddling pool or the kids with their water balloons!

Areas not to miss – neck, decolletage, back of hands, ears, back of neck, scalp (We love Monpure’s face and scalp SPF)

When to apply – All year, all weathers – yes even in the snow and on dull days. Why? Those UVA (ageing rays) come through all year round and in all weathers.

Got an oily skin or worried about breaking out? Choose a non-comedogenic (pore blocking) SPF such as Alumier Clearshield.

[i] Factors Contributing to the Facial Aging of Identical Twins Bahman Guyuron, M.D. David J. Rowe, M.S., M.D. Adam Bryce Weinfeld, M.D. Yashar Eshraghi, M.D. Amir Fathi, M.D. Seree Iamphongsai, M.D. Cleveland, Ohio; and Temple, Texas

[ii] Cancer research UK Sun safety | Reduce your skin cancer risk | Cancer Research UK

[iii] British skin foundation.

Written by Dr Sophie Denny from Honesty Aesthetic Lounge @honestyaestheticlounge

Images supplied

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