The Australian sun is notoriously harsh. And while you might think that sun damage is something you don't need to worry about until you start seeing wrinkles, the truth is that for healthy skin in the future, you need to start protecting yourself now. Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70 - an alarming statistic and a stark reminder of the fact that sun protection isn't something to take lightly. Dr Michael Freeman, Principal Dermatologist at The Skin Centre in Queensland, has his top tips for keeping your skin sun-safe this summer, including one step you've probably never heard of.
The missing step - Vitamin B3
What most people don't realise is that sun safety starts from the inside. If you've already started to experience the effects of sun damage, you can protect yourself internally, alongside your regular sun-safety routine, by increasing your intake of Vitamin B3. New studies have shown that Nicotinamide (the active form of Vitamin B3) helps to repair DNA damage and thus supports skin health. It's important to ensure you get Nicotinamide and not Niacin, the other form of Vitamin B3, which can cause unpleasant side effects (including nausea and flushing). Although you can find Nicotinamide in food, you'd have to ingest a huge amount (think 1kg of vegemite per day) to get the protective effect. So if you're looking to complement your current sun-care regime with Vitamin B3, ask your doctor if adding a Nicotinamide supplement would be helpful.
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SPF: The higher, the safer
A high SPF rating doesn't mean you can wear a sunscreen for longer without getting burnt. But it does mean that the sunscreen itself is actually blocking out a higher percentage of UVB rays. An SPF 15+ facial sunscreen won't block out as much UVB as an SPF 50+, and at the end of the day, you want to be giving yourself the best protection possible. If you want to put your best face forward for years to come, then don't skimp on your facial sunscreen - look for a broad spectrum SPF 50+ sunscreen, and ensure that you reapply every two to three hours.
Less is NOT more
Most people don't apply enough sunscreen to actually fully protect themselves from sun damage. Ideally, you should be applying the equivalent of a teaspoon of sunscreen to each limb, and half a teaspoon to your face. If you've started opting for a trendy spray or gel sunscreen to avoid a greasy feeling, you may not be using enough sunscreen and therefore are receiving less protection.
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Look for liposomal
If you're serious about sun protection (and you should be!), look for a sunscreen that uses liposomal technology. Liposomes are tiny man-made particles that are capable of encapsulating many compounds - in this case, UVA and UVB filters. The great thing about liposomal sunscreen is that it can travel through the top layer of your skin, locking the sunscreens in until they are exhausted, potentially providing more protection for a longer duration. Liposomal sunscreen also doesn't penetrate any further through the skin into your bloodstream, so you don't need to be concerned about excess toxins. Lips love it too.