Most of us are conscious of the need for SPF when out and about and can be confident that we are maintaining the habit of applying it. However, it is still a common misconception that we don’t need to use SPF when indoors. Getting into a routine of applying SPF to our face, under eyes, neck and décolleté at the start of the day every day helps us to ensure we are protected, whether we are staying inside, popping in and out of the house, or heading out for the day. Below we’ll be explaining why this is so important for our skin and health…
WHAT IS SPF AND HOW DOES IT PROTECT US?
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The number on the products that we all see is a measure of protection against UVB rays. The higher the number, the more protection is provided – SPF50+ is considered very high protection while SPF6 is very low. UVB rays only penetrate the skin’s epidermis (top layer) but most of us know how painful and uncomfortable it can be when our skin gets burnt by these rays. If the skin is exposed excessively to the sun without any or very low protection being used, these rays can cause skin cancer and premature ageing. It’s not just the UVB rays that our skin needs protection from though. It is the UVA rays which do the most damage to our skin as they penetrate deeper into the lower layers – the dermis.
WHY WE NEED TO WEAR SUNSCREEN INDOORS
More people than ever have been working from home recently and sitting at their desk near a window to let in the light. The benefit of this is that sunlight increases our serotonin (a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger) in our brain which regulates our mood, making us feel happier. The downside, however, is that in doing so they are still being subjected to UVA and UVB rays when inside through the glass in the windows. This is why an SPF should be applied even indoors.
Up to 40% of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation reaches the earth on a completely cloudy day! Most window glass blocks out UVB rays so you won’t get sunburnt being sat near a window but UVA rays do penetrate through the clouds and glass meaning we are exposed to these when we’re inside our homes, offices and even when we’re in our cars or on public transport. UVA rays break down collagen and elastin, our skin becomes dehydrated, we’re left with a dull and dry complexion, fine lines appear and we also experience inflammation.
It isn’t just UVA rays we have to contend with. Even our TVs and electronic devices – our smartphones, tablets and computer screens emit a blue light (also known as HEV – High Energy Visible light) which can damage our skin. We’re not fully aware of all of the potential dangers of blue light, but research carried out so far has shown that it can cause melasma (brown patches of discolouration), contribute to hyperpigmentation, can kill collagen and trigger inflammation. It is thought that blue light may behave in a similar way to UVA and have similar effects; after all, the sun emits it too. There are some SPF products available which contain ingredients that help to protect the skin from the blue light of our devices; we suggest using these, particularly indoors, for added protection. We’ll also be continuing to look at the scientific evidence and studies around the impact of this on our skin.
Finally, we’re also often exposed to infrared radiation (IRA) – a type of radiant energy that’s invisible to the human eye but that we can feel as heat. Again, the sun is the obvious source of IRA but we shouldn’t forget the appliances such as microwaves or hair dryers that we use in our homes. IRA can also damage the dermis of our skin causing a breakdown of collagen, pigmentation changes and fine lines. This is another reason using an SPF indoors is a must.
Did you know? SPF in make-up does not provide enough protection on its own. Try to choose a broad spectrum SPF which protects against UVA, UVB, HEV and IRA rays. Where possible, opt for separate products with different levels of protection depending on where you are and how long you’ll be exposed for. Remember, if you are heading out for long periods, then reapplying is essential. Always allow your skin to breathe at night by removing the SPF from the day.
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DO YOU USE SPF INDOORS? IF SO, WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE?
We’d love for you to tell us in a comment below!