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How To SPF With Skin Scientist Hannah English (you'll thank us later!)

Hannah English is a skincare junky with a background in pharmaceutical science and a commitment to uncovering the hard science behind cosmetics, especially when it comes to sunscreen! She's been credited with making SPF cool and spreading the word on social media. And.. how's that glowwww! 

Disclaimer: This article is written in partnership with Naked Sundays and Hannah English. All answers and opinions are 100% Hannah's own. 

Hannah English Naked Sundays

Instagram @ms_hannah_e

Naked Sundays: We constantly hear that we have to wear SPF every day. Why is it so important? 

Hannah English: The short version is, the sun is terrible for our skin. For all skin tones. Lighter skin tones have a higher risk of skin cancer (brought about by chronic sun exposure), but all skin tones are subject to the other effects, like dark spots, fine lines, dehydration, burning, damage to DNA, damage to supporting collagen.

The sun’s UVA and UVB rays are radiation, and they can directly warp your DNA, meaning skin doesn’t behave how it’s meant to. And sure, one consequence of this is skin cancer, but other consequences over time are fine lines, dark spots, redness, an uneven skintone, more sensitivity, the list goes on.

Every minute of sun exposure counts. The damage accumulates, too. Don’t forget to also wear a hat, protective clothing, sunglasses, and seek shade, because sunscreen is just one aspect of your sun smart strategy.

Naked Sundays: What is so great about SPF50 ? Is SPF 15 or 30 equally as good? 

Hannah English: Think about it this way – an SPF30 applied correctly lets through 3.3% of radiation, and if you double the SPF to 60, it lets through 1.7% (about half) (source 10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.4924). Now, you’ve been burnt before even when wearing sunscreen, right? You can halve the amount of sun that gets through your sunscreen, just by opting for a different product. So why wouldn’t you?

The other thing about sunscreen is, you have to wear enough, and most people don’t. It’s 1 teaspoon per limb, and ½ teaspoon for combined face neck and ears. I’ll always tell you to wear the highest SPF you can, so even if you fall short here, you’re getting as much protection as possible.

Why is a TGA-listed SPF so important to you as opposed to SPF in makeup? 

Hannah English: Sun protection is about great sunscreens, but it’s also about behaviour. When you use a product that ‘has SPF’ but is not a sunscreen, you’re not using a dedicated sun protection product. In the case of makeup, you’re wearing something that changes the appearance of your skin, and so when you’re happy with how your skin looks you’re going to stop adding product. This means you’re probably not wearing the ½ teaspoon you need to get adequate protection for your face, neck, and ears. Not to mention no one puts foundation with SPF on their neck or ears… or hands… you get where I’m going here… That product’s purpose is not really about sun safety, is it?

It’s important to think about sun protection as the primary purpose of your AM skincare routine, and in doing so, keep that canvas for your makeup in its best possible shape.

Naked Sundays: We have just launched our Sun Serum (SPF50, TGA-listed). How would you use this best? 

Hannah English: Your sunscreen is the last step of your skincare routine, so you can use Sun Serum alone as a combined serum, sunscreen, and smoothing primer, or just apply after your serum and moisturiser if you prefer. Let it dry for a few minutes, then go in with makeup. If you choose to wear makeup that day. You won’t need a separate primer with Sun Serum, it’s already a primer texture with smoothing silicones to give your skin the most flawless base for makeup.

All that said, sometimes silicone based products don’t play well with other silicone based products. My advice is to keep your layering to a minimum, which is good advice anyway (if I do say so myself). We don’t want to overstimulate our skin with too many products!

Naked Sundays SPF50 Sun Serum

Naked Sundays: Sun Serum is silicon-based. Is this okay for sensitive skin? 

Hannah English: Totally! Silicones are an inert class of ingredient, their job is to create a silky texture and moisturise while stabilising other ingredients (like the UV filters in your sunscreen). Some, like those in Sun Serum, are designed to partially evaporate from skin, giving them a super-light feel and finish.

Naked Sundays: Our SPF mist is designed for topping up SPF. What is your advice on using an SPF mist?

Hannah English: Key words here are topping up – you can absolutely use it alone, but you have to use a lot. It would be 7-8 spritzes if you could guarantee that would all end up on your face, so use a couple of extra spritzes just to be sured. When using an SPF mist to reapply, think about the areas your sunscreen would be degrading first, like the T-Zone where it’s oilier (your skin’s oil can break up sunscreen) and the jawline, where you could touch your face and rub it off. And finally, put one in every handbag so you’re never caught off guard by UV radiation.

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