Let’s Talk About Sun Baby

We all (should) know the dangers of unprotected sun…..but honestly when the sun is not shining I’m guilty of sometimes skimping on the  SPF. There are lots of reasons why this is not a good idea, even if you’re dark skinned. I recently had the chance to have a chat with Abi Cleeve, managing director of Ultrasun UK, and all-round sun protection guru. I asked her everything I wanted to know about suncare but was afraid to ask……..
Abi Cleeve, MD, Ultrasun UK
Abi Cleeve, MD, Ultrasun UK
Me: I was born in tropical Africa and never used sunscreen there. Do I really need it now I live in cold, grey London?
Abi: Yes! Absolutely. All skin types become less and less able to protect themselves the more time you spend out of the sun. A sunny day arrives, even UK sun, and it really can impact on the condition of the skin and incremental damage.  Similarly, travelling somewhere hot from a colder climate makes skin very sun sensitive.  Whilst you’ll need a lower protection choice than fairer skin, still aim for an SPF of 20 and importantly check for a good level of UVA protection.  EU minimum is set currently at a 33% minimum UVA filter in sun protection products against the Australian UVA filter minimum requirement of 90%.  Ultrasun products, in addition to the SPF (UVB filter measurement) number illustrated on each of the products in the range, all contain 91-99% UVA filter. 

Me: Why does most sunscreen make me look I’ve covered my face in chalk?      

Abi: Many sunscreens contain zinc and/or titanium and these can appear very white on the skin. They can dull or grey darker skin types.  Opt for an invisible clear gel or spray solution such as Ultrasun Sports formulas (available in SPF 20, 30 and 50)

Me: What is different about Ultrasun so it doesn’t give chalkface?                                                            

 Abi: Our Sports range offer a clear gel or clear spray formula that’s also more sensitive and hydrating, and they glide on like moisturiser. They have tiny particles and don’t sit on the top layers of the skin leaving that chalky, greasy feel. We encapsulate our UVA and UVB filters in a liposome which means the protection is absorbed into the skin rather than sitting on the upper layer. This means easy absorption, no greasy residue and a really photo stable protection that’s crucial for the skin. 

Me: Can you explain the difference between UVA & UVB?                                                                                                      Abi: UVB are the rays we associate with the heat of the sun. They are the rays responsible for the burning of the skin’s surface, and over exposure to UVB leads to immediate and long lasting skin damage. It is essential to protect from this and it is measured in terms of SPF. UVA rays penetrate far deeper even damaging new skin cells at subcutaneous level. This damage leads to premature ageing of the skin and also long term skin damage (skin cancer) so it really is vital to protect from both. You need a good level of SPF (at least 20 – higher in extreme conditions and for skin not used to the sun) and a high UVA filter.

Me: Black skin tends to age better. Can we get away with not bothering about UVA protection?                         Abi: No! No…and no.  It really isn’t just about ageing, though insufficient year round UVA protection will cause it (UVA penetrates glass and 90% of light cloud cover). Ageing aside, yes you must bother, UVA causes cellular level skin damage.  I can’t stress enough that taking UVA protection seriously is vital to long term skin health.  

Me: Black skin tends to be more susceptible to hyperpigmentation. Any advice on how to tackle this?             Abi: Yes protect, protect and protect: Broad spectrum, under make up, and consider using a targeted anti-pigmentation formula. Amazing break throughs have been made in targeting pigmentation so make the most of it.  Ultrasun launched a targeted product in 2014, addressing pigmentation whilst also still providing high level UVA and UVB protection…and the great anti-ager Ecotin.  The  results feedback from customers existing and new has been brilliant, give it a try: Ultrasun anti-pigmentation Face 50+ 

Me: Can we talk numbers – is bigger always best?                                                                                                                     Abi: Not necessarily – the right is always the best. Get to know your skin. For kids under 10 obviously go high as their skin is more vulnerable and we know that damage caused at a tender age is more dramatic in the longer term. As a general rule of thumb for a dark skin tone – go for SPF20 in the UK and SPF30-50 overseas depending on whether your skin is used to the sun.

Me: Is black skin immune from skin cancer?                                  

Abi: Unfortunately, although the incidence of skin cancer is far lower than  in fair skins, the mortality rate is higher. Please check yourself and your family regularly. Changes are harder to detect on darker skin, and there is a lingering perception that UVA damage doesn’t apply because the visible “burn” from UVB rays isn’t as obvious on darker skin tones.  If you are worried go to your GP and insist that you are referred. Take five minutes to  really know your skin and be better equipped to monitor any changes

Me: I’ve got very sensitive skin, what Ultrasun products would you recommend?
Abi: Go to the sensitive formulas (Glimmer 20, Family 30) These are great even for the most sensitive of skins  (Family 30 and Extreme 50 are prescribed as well as sold in stores – for those with skin conditions or very sensitive skin).  You’ll notice that they really do sink in effortlessly leaving skin looking and feeling beautiful (and of course protected!).  All Ultrasun products are hypoallergenic with no emulsifiers, perfume or parabens, making them great for kids and sensitive skin. They also prevent the onset of sun allergies or prickly heat whilst allowing a natural tan.

Me: Any other tips for safe sun?                                                                                                                                                          Abi: Drink plenty of water and apply sun products correctly – indoors at least 15 minutes before exposure.  Ultrasun’s once a day liposome technology also means that once applied indoors, that’s it for the day, no sweat, no rub off, no re-application.  Take regular shade breaks and use a properly formulated aftersun, which can help the skin’s own natural repair function.   

So there you have it. Anything you would like to know?

Ultrasun is available in stores nationwide including at QVC and M&SFor further information visit www.ultrasun.co.uk


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