There’s been a disturbing trend in the natural health sphere for a while now and I think it’s time I talk about it. Natural health bloggers (see Wellness Mama and Pronounce Skincare, for example) have been spreading the word about their amazing homemade sunscreens. They […]
Month: November 2017
Mineral oil is the ingredient that gives us baby oil, Vaseline and more. It’s a highly occlusive ingredient that’s chemically inert, making it amazing as a final routine step. It’s derived from the refinement process of crude oil to make gasoline and other petroleum products. […]
If you haven’t heard yet, SPF is the measurement of how much UV protection sunscreen offers you. An SPF of 30, for example, only lets through to your skin 1 bit of UV for every 30 it blocks. That sounds great, right? This is roughly 96% protection! But do you know about the way scientists gather this information? If you did, you’d know why it’s so important that you apply sunscreen generously. Otherwise you aren’t getting the SPF that’s stated on the bottle.
The Method Scientists Use to Get The SPF Number
Volunteer participants are sat under a high-intensity UV lamp, and the sunscreen in question is applied to a portion of their body. This is then compared to the unprotected skin, and the time it takes for them to burn naturally vs. with the sunscreen is measured. This gives us a rough idea of how much UV light is getting through. If it takes 30x longer for the protected skin to burn, then it’s being exposed to around 1/30th of the UV light, making the formula an SPF of 30. A higher number like 50 means the fraction of light being let through is less (1/50th). A lower number like SPF 15 only extends burn time by a factor of 15, meaning 1/15th of UV light is blocked by the formula.
The important part here is the amount of sunscreen they apply.
How Much SPF You Should Be Applying
To get the amount of protection it says on the bottle, we need to apply as much as the scientists did when they tested it. It’s logical that less sunscreen = less protection.
The industry standard for SPF measurements is 2.0 mg on every cm2 of skin (that’s ~0.0655 oz/1 ft2 for the non-metric readers). Every time a sunscreen is tested, this amount is carefully measured out so as to ensure consistency between tests and brands.
‘2.0 mg/cm2’ doesn’t mean much to the everyday person. We don’t weigh our sunscreen out and measure our skin. But with some simple maths we can make this number easier to remember and go by.
The average adult face is ~557.4 cm2 in size. That means to get 2mg on every centimetre of our face, we’d need 1115 milligrams (557.4 x 2), better put as 1.15 grams. That’s about a quarter of a teaspoon for just the face. Surprisingly large! Now think about how much you’d need to use on your arms and legs! It’s estimated to be around a teaspoon for each each arm and each leg. If you wanted to cover every inch of your body, you’d need 7 teaspoons of sunscreen!
Without this amount, not only might we miss spots, but there simply won’t be enough chemical or physical blockers to effectively protect our skin from the sun, potentially leading to photodamage and skin cancer.
John Su wrote a great post illustrating exactly how much he sunscreen he needs for his own unique facial measurements. If you’re interested in the maths, check it out!
The Implications of Having to Use a Lot of Sunscreen
The problems begin when people rely on moisturiser or especially foundation as their sole SPF protection. Not only is it unlikely that they’re evenly covering all of their face, but I’m almost certain that nobody uses anywhere near that amount of foundation! You then won’t be getting the SPF on the bottle. I think additional SPF in makeup is great as an extra precaution or for touch ups during the day. But you should always use a dedicated sunscreen first and apply it generously to exposed areas.
That’s it for today folks! Check out what level of SPF you should be using, and remember to apply your 1/4 teaspoon this morning! I’ll see you all next time,
As I mentioned in my Skin Care + Depression post, I think skin care is a great tool for self care. It’s fun, relaxing, and really offers tangible self improvement. But unfortunately, a lot of the DIY at-home spa day guides out there on the […]
It’s a chilly winter morning. You reach over and pull apart the curtains and take a look outside only to see that it’s dark, grey and overcast. The weather report says there’ll be a storm, maybe even snow. “Great!” you think, “I won’t need sunscreen […]
Whether you’ve dealt with consistent acne for years or you’ve just woken up one morning to a brand new family of pimples on your chin, it can be frustrating not to know why. A common misconception is that bad hygiene causes acne – this isn’t true! Instead, there are so many more subtle and complicated causes. Finding out which you ones you suffer from can help you pinpoint the routine and treatments that will fix your skin. Today let’s talk about some of the less discussed underlying reasons why you might be breaking out and how to amend them.
Hormonal acne can often appear down the centre of the face (forehead, nose and chin) in teenagers going through puberty. For adults, painful cystic acne on the lower half of the face, especially the chin and jawline is also typical of hormonal breakouts.
Excess testosterone (common in teenagers) binds to androgen receptor cells in the skin, causing oilier skin and overall inflammation. This encourages bacterial growth and clogged pores, and makes inflamed acne seem redder and angrier. For adult women the hormonal fluctuations associated with menstruation can be the source of this excess testosterone.
It’s thought that high blood sugar can overstimulate the sex organs that output testosterone. This testosterone then has nowhere to go except the androgen receptors, further creating acne. A low-GI, high protein + fibre based diet is a good place to start for levelling out your blood sugar. You can also see a doctor to get your hormone levels checked out and get recommendations for other ways to control them.
Stress breakouts are linked to hormonal breakouts. Your adrenal glands (that are stimulated when you’re stressed to produce adrenaline) also release testosterone. As such, these kind of breakouts resemble hormonal breakouts, typically featuring cystic lower jaw and chin acne. If you’ve been spreading yourself thin recently and are seeing an increase in acne, consider stress as a culprit.
There are lots of ways to deal with stress. Meditation, mindfulness and other mental exercises can be used to control negative thoughts and pressures. Endorphins released during exercise are also natural stress-busters. Deep breathing exercises are also great for slowing the heart rate and mind. And finally, self care is a great way to step out of your stressful headspace. Try watching a great movie you love or visiting a place you’ve been meaning to go but haven’t found the time. Regularly making time for yourself, be it with an activity like a movie or a bath, or through a skin care routine, will help incorporate a little bit of stress relief into your daily life.
The less common but equally stubborn fungal “acne” appears as many small, skin coloured bumps, often found on the forehead and cheeks. They can sometimes be itchy. It doesn’t cause cystic pimples and won’t respond to traditional acne treatments at all.
Unlike the previously mentioned forms of acne, fungal acne is not a reaction to bacteria trapped in pores but rather to the byproducts of a fungal infection. In most cases, it’s malassezia folliculitis that’s masquerading as breakouts. This fungus (malassezia) eats skin oils and produces excess inflammatory, irritating fatty acids as a byproduct. The body’s reaction to this can resemble acne, but is not truly acne.
Long-term antibiotic use has been suggested as a catalyst for fungal acne. The loss of many natural skin flora means that fungi have a chance to take over. A whole-body yeast infection could also be the cause of some fungal acne. Treatment for this is usually an antifungal prescription and diet from your doctor. Another potential cause is an improper routine that feeds naturally occurring fungi on the skin, leading them to get out of control. F.C. over on Simple Skincare Science wrote a great post on malassezia and what ingredients to avoid using on it. I follow his advice when I get a flare up of seborrhoeic dermatitis (another similar kind of fungal infection) and it’s a huge help!
You just have to look at my skin journey to see what bad dehydration breakouts look like. They’re small, flat red bumps amongst rough and scaly skin. It looks super irritated and doesn’t respond well to most acne-fighting products. Your skin might be very oily, but at the same flaky, tight or dry.
It seems counter intuitive, but acne loves dehydrated skin. Dehydration is caused by the loss of the protective barrier (called the acid mantle) from rough and improper care. This makes our skin susceptible to infection. Also, when transepidermal water loss (evaporation of water from your skin into the air) subsequently increases, causing dehydration, it irritates the skin. These combined create a perfect environment for really angry acne and general redness.
Of course, you’ll have to drop any harsh or foaming cleansers and acne treatments from your routine and focus on moisture. This can be scary, especially with oily skin, but I promise that it will calm down soon and look so much healthier. When skin is properly moist it can heal and repair much faster. Hydrated skin is also easier to cover up with makeup if you so choose. If you need product inspiration, check out my routine which was designed to repair my dehydrated skin.
Do you think you suffer from acne caused by any of these things? Skin can be complicated at times, but the best approach is always patience and hope. If you keep at it, you’ll figure out a routine that works for you.
Having trouble creating a routine? Check out my new Beginner Skin Care Guide, designed for skin care newbies looking for some direction (It’s totally free too)!
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you again soon,
If you were to ask me what my happy place is, I’d describe to you a pristine beach on a clear summer’s day, viewed from the picnic blanket outside my camping tent. I’d be with my boyfriend, eating nibbles and drinking iced tea. The birds […]
Trigger warning: mental health, self-harm and blood. When acne or other skin problems get you down, it’s easy to feel like you’ve lost control. Especially if you don’t know the cause, or if it feels like you’ve tried every last ‘solution’ on the market. One […]
It’s a simple question that scares the uninitiated and perplexes the practiced alike. How often can you wash your face? Are you doing it wrong? Will doing it too much or too little hurt your skin? I’m going to share some guidelines to figuring this al out.
Firstly, these are some issues that could arise if you wash your face too often or too little.
Overwashing: If you’re cleansing more than your skin needs, it could start to become dehydrated, irritated and sensitive.
Underwashing: If you’re not cleansing often enough, your products may not sink into your skin effectively because of the old products and oils in their way Also, not cleansing off the grime from the day could lead to breakouts and even further free radical damage that causes ageing.
Things to consider
There are a couple of considerations to take into account when figuring out how often you need to wash your face. Use these to help guide you in finding the right amount for you.
- Skin type: Dry skin will need to be washed less often than oily skin, as a rule. If you are greasy, water isn’t enough to remove that film. However, if your skin is oily due to dehydration, you might have to tough out some oily days and cleanse less frequently to help bring things back in balance again. It should all calm down soon.
- Product weight: Those who use heavy occlusive creams or wear lots of makeup will need to remove these more frequently as a rule. This is to make sure your fresh products can penetrate effectively and aren’t being hindered by old products or makeup.
- Skin condition: People with eczema or sensitive skin might be more comfortable cleansing less to avoid unnecessary loss of precious moisture. Contrarily, those with acne could benefit from more frequent cleansing to combat bacterial spread.
So, what’s the best number of times to wash your face in a day?
In my opinion, once in the evening is a must. This cleanse will remove the dirt, dust, oil and pollution from the day, as well as any leftover sunscreen, makeup or makeup remover that’s on your skin. I believe everyone should cleanse at least once at night.
If you feel like you need to remove old product or oils, or just to start off fresh in the morning then cleanse then too! You only need to cut back if you’re experiencing irritation or dryness. I’d say that most people choose to cleanse in the morning also, making twice a day the norm.
In other words, listen to your skin. Once a day might be enough for you, but feel free to cleanse twice if it makes you enjoy your routine more or get the maximum effectiveness from your products. I advise against cleansing more often than this, though, as your skin will start to feel dry and stripped. If you go the gym and get really sweaty during the day, try something like a micellar water to gently remove the sweat without doing a full cleanse – and always follow with moisturiser!
That’s it for today guys, see you again soon.
I’ll be the first to admit that there’s nothing more soothing and homely than a beautiful aroma. Like the smell of fresh oranges and lemons while you’re baking dessert. Or a touch of calming lavender oil sprinkled on your pillow after a long day. Pleasant […]